What do you mean with Technology in Education?
I worked as a Technology Assistant for a K3-12 Private School for a while in college. One of the big things that was coming up while I was working there was Technology in the Classroom. At first this was very simply just working through getting projectors in all the classrooms. This really did help to increase the amount of learning in the classroom. The next big push became students using laptops or tablets on a more regular basis. Ideally it sounds like a great idea. Since the world is moving more towards a full adoption of Technology it would be great for them to have experience using it. But there are a few problems.
Employers Use of Technologies
Every employer has their own idea of how they want reporting done. Which applications to use. So because of this I believe the argument that students need to have more practice using these various tools is irrelevant. I think it would be more important for schools to have access to multiple applications that while do the same thing are slightly different. This would allow kids to get used to very quickly switching between different applications. One of the best things my father did for me was have me continually switch vehicles when I was learning to drive. Today I now feel comfortable getting into any vehicle and driving down the road. I know what things I need to get used to quickly so that I can feel comfortable on the road. The same can apply for applications. Microsoft Word and Google Docs while both are very similar applications are just slightly different enough that they really are not the same. In ways we are hurting students future job prospects by limiting them to a single application.
One-to-One vs BYOD
First let’s define these:
- One-to-One: This is the plan where the school provides every student a device. Typically it is fully managed by the school and comes pre-loaded with any pieces of software the student might need.
- BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): This is where the family would be responsible for purchasing the student a device. Typically this also requires purchasing software to go along with the device.
Obviously, there are pros and cons to each and really it all boils down to your situation. One-to-One could be ideal for teachers since each student has a similar device. BYOD could be preferred to some parents who don’t feel comfortable with their student having a school issued device. Personally I prefer BYOD. The reason is very simple, and that is it takes a lot of the responsibility off the IT department at a school. I know to some this is extremely opposite of what they think. Here are the reasons why I think this way though:
- If the laptop gets dropped the family has to take care of replacing it. With BYOD the IT Department would have to go through billing them and repairing it either on or off site.
- It gives the family more of a choice. We all have our preferred size, brand, color, shape of device. While I enjoy having a nice large 15″ screen I know of some people that wouldn’t be caught dead carrying anything larger than a 13″. Personally I prefer Apple Products whereas some people think Apple is the worst product ever.
- This allows the parents to get the student a laptop that they need. With Development you might need a laptop that has some more power in certain areas whereas just taking notes a Chromebook is perfectly fine.
Do the students actually need to use Technology?
Here is the big question that many people are wondering. This revolves around people who only took notes on paper. Personally I prefer to take notes on a computer and get annoyed when a Professor or Teacher says they don’t want us using laptops except Math. I am able to type much more quickly on a computer and be able to keep up with the teacher much more easily than if I was writing on paper. Another plus to typing is personally when I go back to my notes later on I am able to much more easily read them.
So to this question it is the famous answer of, “Yes and No.” Yes I think students need to use Technology. No I do not think that every student needs to use Technology. This brings up the complaint with One-to-One and BYOD of not every student using the same medium on which to do their work, and to that I ask the question of, “So?” If a developer writes their best code out in the middle of the woods on a piece of bark. As long as it compiles and works properly does it really matter?
Overall I am not in any way against having students use Technology in the classroom and I even encourage it. The point that I am against is forcing them to use it and making it criminal to work in any other way. Many artists and designers still tend to prefer putting pen to paper when making the rough drafts. If a student prefers to write their notes on a piece of notebook paper this should not be criminalized but I think encouraged. Everyone learns a different way. Just because someone does not learn or think the way you do does not mean that they are wrong.