Apparently Technology is Ruining Education…

At least that is the impression one gets after reading this article in the New York Times.

I actually got a little angry as I read this article. <You are going to have to read the article now if you haven’t yet.>

First of all, I think smashing a cell phone in class because a student happened to forget to turn it off is a little extreme. Yes, I know it was just a ruse cooked up by the professor to “teach” his unsuspecting students a lesson, but really, was it necessary?

“The poor schoolmarm or master, required to provide a certain amount of value for your child’s entertainment dollar, now must compete with texting, instant-messaging, Facebook, eBay, YouTube, Addictinggames.com and other poxes on pedagogy.”

I have news for you professor, if you are not interesting your students, they will find something else that will whether that means thinking about their upcoming weekend, doodling on a piece of paper, surreptitiously reading a magazine or searching the web. Instead of viewing technology as the enemy, why not use it in your favor to help engage your students in the content you would like them to learn? I realize that college courses have subsisted on lecture since the dawn of time, but is it the best mode of teaching you can muster?

“If you start tolerating this stuff, it becomes the norm.”

No, not the norm! Please say that technology use in the classroom won’t become the norm! Yes, I am being sarcastic, and yes, I realize the professor is actually referencing off-task behavior with technology and not just technology itself… but really, I still find the comment ridiculous.

“The baby boomers seem to see technology as information and communication,” said Prof. Michael Bugeja, director of the journalism school at Iowa State University and the author of “Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age.” “Their offspring and the emerging generation seem to see the same devices as entertainment and socializing.”

Wow! I am sure am glad that this guy came along with his stereotypes and cleared it all up for us. <Sorry, my sarcasm is getting a little out of hand.> But really, I know several “baby boomers” who use technology as a means of entertainment and socializing, and I have a classroom full of students who use technology as a means of locating information and completing assignments. Do my students use technology as a means of entertainment and socializing as well? Sure they do… just like they used to write notes and pass them in class.

“All the advances schools and colleges have made to supposedly enhance learning — supplying students with laptops, equipping computer labs, creating wireless networks — have instead enabled distraction. Perhaps attendance records should include a new category: present but otherwise engaged.”

So again, I say, use technology to your advantage. TEACH your students how to use it properly to help with their education instead of hinder it. Join the 21st century.

“The idea that subject matter is boring is truly relative. Boring as opposed to what? Buying shoes on eBay? The fact is, we’re not here to entertain. We’re here to stimulate the life of the mind.”

Hmmm… I am not exactly sure what to say here. Buying shoes on eBay is more fun to me than Calculus but not as fun as reading a novel, so yes, subject matter is relative; however, it can still be engaging to the majority of the class. Do you need to tap dance in front of the class for an hour. No, but you might try something different than just talking at them.

Call me crazy, but I think technology can and is beneficial to education and should be incorporated in the classroom.

Your thoughts?

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6 Comments on “Apparently Technology is Ruining Education…”

  1. Steve Rosenbaum Says:

    I think articles and studies like these are trying to protect the status quo. It’s like the way people find ways to fight automation to protect jobs even though it leads to inferior products.

    Technology is a very broad swiping term. Maybe it should be technology + bad teaching leads to bad results. Great teachers know how to use technology. And in fact, great technology can replace teachers at times.

  2. Suzanne Says:

    Ebay vs Calculus? HMMM… I think that I may pick Ebay, too…

    I agree with all you said. Teaching in Tennessee, with no technology, the students found ways to occupy their minds, if I didn’t provide them with something. They will do the same thing here with all the technology around them. But, if I do not embrace the technology, I do not think that I can reach the students on their level with anything, let alone AP Calculus… 🙂

  3. thesphinx33 Says:

    Technology isn’t ruining education, there simply isn’t enough technology to go around for all of our students to use. If more technology was availible for the public sector (education, hospitals, police, and fire) life would be much better for all of us. But until goverments decide to bare the cost of technology access for all our students and teachers, these complaints will continue. To quote Austin Millbarge from the movie “Spies Like Us”–“We mock what we don’t understand.”

    http://thesphinx33.wordpress.com/

  4. Beth Says:

    I’m wondering why teachers at tech successful schools like the Academy are not called upon more often to share the “how to’s” with the “want to’s” in the edutech universe.

  5. DubV Says:

    “I have news for you professor, if you are not interesting your students, they will find something else that will whether that means thinking about their upcoming weekend, doodling on a piece of paper, surreptitiously reading a magazine or searching the web.”

    Read this statement over and over and try to determine why it is a problem. Technology and everything being learning-with-leap-frog-esque is not teaching students how to personally engage with material. Also, students should pay attention simply because they have to in order to receive a passing grade. I grew up prior to advanced technology taking over everything learning related. I did not project my own internal feelings of boredom or difficulty with a subject onto the instructor. It was my problem to deal with and learn to pay attention to get good grades. Guess what? I now find nearly everything except inane talk of pop culture (e.g. who is justin bieber dating?) interesting regardless of presentation style, so long as new information is being presented to me. How can a human possibly pull this off? I am curious, delighted to learn new information, and I constantly think of how this new information fits into what I already know and how it helps explain things I could not previously explain.

    This technological infusion in order to reach the dumbest and most apathetic, while strengthening these tendencies in students, is part of the push for everyone (even those that don’t want it) to have an education. We would do well to model ourselves after the countries that far surpass in educational attainment. They teach mental discipline and make students work hard.

    • DubV Says:

      We are too often catering to the lowest common denominator and base instincts within students. I think it has something to do with most educators being extremely liberal in a PC way and also being self-flagellating (e.g. it is nearly always the teacher’s fault).


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