The Huffington Post has recently written an article detailing why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/10-reasons-why-handheld-devices-should-be-banned_b_4899218.html). It is linking handheld technology issues to things such as obesity, sleep deprivation, mental illness and others. Many of these can be valid issues, especially when focusing on the youth, however there are many aspects that this article is not taking into consideration. It’s focus is mainly on the possible results do to recreational use, such as playing video games for ten hours straight in one day, but then fails to tie in the countless educational benefits that can come from incorporating technology into the classroom. If concerned about the expanding use of technology in schools today, hopefully taking a look into ways in which it can be beneficial for students will ease your mind.
In order to be successful in today’s world, one has to be technologically fluent. The resources that are out there and that are continually being introduced provide society with infinite ways to gain knowledge and collaborate with others to accomplish things that would have never been possible without that technology. Cris Rowan, author of 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12, states “Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology.” Reading this as educators of the next generation, this came across as very untrue. We live in a digital age where success is truly centered around one’s ability to utilize the resources available to them and adapt to the forever changing world around us. The idea of “overusing” technology today, especially when it comes to educational purposes, should not even exist. Not allowing students to learn in the ways in which they have grown up knowing will only hinder them in the long run. As John Dewey would put it, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow.”
Please take the time to read this article titled, The Ten Fundamental Reasons for Technology in Education (http://www.mathopenref.com/site/techreasons.html). Some of the benefits of incorporating technology into the classroom that were mentioned include the following:
- Expands students from only learning during the 45 minute class to learning anywhere and everywhere they go throughout the day.
- Interactive simulations and illustrations can produce a much greater depth of understanding of a concept.
- Technology allows the students to research information on their own and then teach their peers about it. It has been proven that we learn 90% of what we teach to others, so having the ability to incorporate this strategy in the classroom can be very beneficial for the students.
- Through technology, even the most quite students are able to find their voice. Having students post their work to blogs or YouTube makes them feel like the work that they are doing is truly important because anyone out there could see it. It empowers them and encourages them to think creatively.
- A vital skill in this digital era is to be able to collaborate with others around the world. Resources such as Skype allow teachers to go on virtual field trips, where students are given the opportunity to explore a new culture or even learn right alongside students from China, Japan, or anywhere else in the world.
- Incorporating technology also allows a teacher to create a Universal Design for Learning in their classroom, where instruction can be differentiated to each and every student’s individual needs. Below is a video that explains UDL in more detail:
After reading through this information, you may find that the benefits of incorporating technology into education seem to outweigh the negatives mentioned in the Huffington Post article. One of the negatives mentioned was that between birth and two years old, the brain triples in size, and continues in a state of rapid development until you are 21. They assumed that being around technology during this time would be detrimental to one’s intellectual growth. However, the amount of information that is out there on the Internet and available to us at our fingertips is more than ever before. Through incorporating technology into the classroom, we are able to teach students how to utilize all of these available resources in ways in which will allow them to grow academically. Another downfall mentioned in Rowan’s post was that exposing children under the age of 12 to technology can cause digital dementia. She said that “children who can’t pay attention can’t learn.” Technology, however, can be used in ways that actually help retain students’ attention. Utilizing these resources allows teachers to provide multiple means of representation for their students, helping keep their focus. For example, through technology a teacher has the opportunity to provide students with videos or interactive online games that build on what they are learning in class. Giving these different approaches allows students to gain a greater depth of knowledge and make more connections because they are fully engaged and interested throughout the entire class.
In order to teach students how to be successful in today’s digital era, incorporating technology into the classroom is an essential aspect. As mentioned, these resources allow students to be the collaborators and creative thinkers that we need, and give teachers the ability to differentiate the instruction to meet the needs of each individual learner. Without technology, these things would be much harder to accomplish. Although there may be a few downfalls that come with the exposure to technology, we live in a world where we would be hindering ourselves if we didn’t utilize these resources. For the betterment of our students and the success of the next generation, incorporating technology into education is an absolute must.
For further information, here are two additional resources that would be beneficial to reference to: