Technology in education has long been an idea entertained by teachers, administrators, and, of course, students. The hope behind equipping every student with some form of technology is that it will bridge the divide between socio-economic classes by giving every student equal access to information and providing invaluable marketable skills for the 21st century. While the push for technology in the classroom is one with good intentions, recent research has proven good intentions are not enough to help students learn.
Susan Pinker, a writer for the New York Times, studied research done by Duke University economists Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd which shows that middle school students’ math and reading scores have decreased after being given laptops – the exact opposite of what educators are trying to accomplish in the classroom (2015). In her article “Can Students Have Too Much Tech?” Pinker suggests that in actuality technology is doing more harm than anything due to a combination of students misusing the internet, educators not being trained on how to adequately utilize technology in the classroom, and the overall faultiness of modern gadgetry. Without drastic measures taken by educators to monitor and structure technology usage in the classroom, tech, like laptops, has the potential to make student learning less achievable. Instead of fostering student contribution, satisfactory student data, and opportunities for all students to achieve, technology is widening the class divide in education and contributing to a drop and depression of “students’ academic scores… for as long as the researchers kept tabs on them” (2015).
In her article “Smartphones Are Making Me Dumb,” writer Susan Svrluga discusses the results of what happened when researchers at Rice University and the US Air Force provided phones to a group of college students. A year after being provided the phones, the college students reported back to researchers that, in reality, the access to internet on their phones distracted them from their learning and was not helpful at all. Ultimately, the students themselves lost interest in having phones provided due to the overwhelming consensus that technology hindered more than helped them. Philip Kortum, an assistant professor at Rice University, observed about the students: “At the beginning they were very excited about it, but at the end they were much more concerned” (2015).
Svrluga echoes Pinker by stating, “educators would need to offer more structure or guidance if they wanted phones to enhance students’ academic experience” (2015). The research which Pinker and Svrluga focused on differed as one was about disadvantaged middle school students and the other about college students, respectively. Yet, in the end, similar conclusions were met as the research showed that without intentionality and structure on the part of those providing technology, students miss out on the access to limitless information the internet can provide.
This post is summarized by Jennifer Loa for COIPI from:
1) Pinker, Susan. “Can Students Have Too Much Tech?” New York Times 30 January 2015.
2) Svrluga, Susan. “My Smartphone Is Making Me Dumb.” Washington Post 7 July 2015.
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Inside Image from: http://www.thinkucation.com/technology-in-education.htm