21 December 2015
3 min read
When I was in university, "in-class" technology amounted to my choice of notebook and writing utensil for the term. I'm not even embarrassed to say that in my first conversation with another university professor a few years ago about the popularity of laptops in class, my first response was, "I'd ban them. They're simply going to be on Facebook and Buzzfeed the entire class, not taking notes."
The irony of which is that I'm one of the most connected people I know — I use a tablet, a laptop and my smartphone, each filled with mobile and web-based apps that power my business day in, day out.
So, do those long-standing myths about technology in the classroom still hold up? When we're launching children, teens and young adults into a tech-powered world, it might be time to debunk them.
Technology Interferes with Attention Span
You simply can't ignore the fact that more kids these days are wired than not. At younger and younger ages, they have mobile devices and on those devices, apps and games installed. They're what kids use to fill the "spaces between", on car rides, bus trips, and time spent queuing — not unlike adults.
But here's an alternative way to look at the myth of technology killing attention span - have you ever watched a child engrossed in a video game?
Technology can improve a child's attention span in an ever-so-busy world, helping them focus on a task or goal.
In-class technology that challenges students to work through a scenario, solve a problem, or compete with peers can place attention where needed: on critical learning activities and in a fun, tech-based environment that's native to today's children.
Technology Negatively Impacts Decision Making
There's the argument that when students operate in a technology-driven environment, they lose the ability to research and determine a free-form path to solutions.
For example, if a student is playing an educational math game that teaches only one way of solving an equation, he might become frustrated and think he's not good at math.
Or, when a student dives into web-based research for a paper, she's likely to grab the first links she finds as sources for her paper rather than pursue additional research, whereas libraries of yore displayed available books as they were, with less of a clear pathway to push students towards certain sources.
But an alternative perspective comes from thinking of these pathways as rabbit holes. When students are given the ability to dig deep into the Internet they can follow the warren of links to blaze paths they wouldn't have likely found in the analogue world. From here, students may do amazing things like create award-winning films on the theory of relativity and blaze new paths in the realm of alternative energy.
Technology Inhibits Creativity
Technology has made many activities accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level. For example, online design apps like Canva offer even the most design-challenged student the ability to easily create brilliant visual designs for presentations. The lovely app called Infinite Painter lets users draw on a tablet using tools to mimic popular mediums like charcoal, pencils and watercolours that might otherwise be off-putting to the less artistic in the classroom.
Even the BBC News agrees that Minecraft, the game that allows users to use blocks to build anything they can imagine, is "more than just another video game." Imagine a world where teachers across a wide range of disciplines can invite students to solve a problem in Minecraft - say, a science teacher could assign an activity on mechanics that asks student to create a machine that walks. The designs of those machines would be as diverse as the group of students.
As technology advances, it is becoming increasingly able to foster and encourage creativity.
Manufacturers like HP are helping classrooms innovate by combining technology and education in new ways. Through HP Sprout technology, 3D learning has become accessible and affordable for school systems and families. Creativity knows no bounds when students can scan a 3D object, improve on the digital rendition, and 3D print the new creation.
The HP Classroom Manager is an all-encompassing technology for creating a virtual classroom. Students can learn in a digital environment where their teachers can track progress, create chat groups to discuss current lessons, and digitally assign and collect assignments. Both educator and student always have the classroom at their fingertips so that students can learn from anywhere.
Technology in the classroom is changing how students and educators communicate. It's blazing new inroads for faster learning than ever. Now, it's not a matter how how fast a student learns. It's a matter of how they learn — and the hows have grown in number, thanks to technology.
Discover more at HP Education.