Technology Today…

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Is Technology Helping or Hurting Education?

There’s been a lot of discussion on whether all of modern technology is helping advance education or is hurting students in their learning and grasping of concepts. It’s clear that much of technology does hold great advantages. As mentioned on the show, Power Point and the Microsoft Office suite do improve productivity, databases do store and make available great quantities of information, the web and Google are making information available to the masses like never before.  The Internet in general is greatly connecting teachers with students to allow education to continue outside the classroom and is also increasing the connection between teachers and parents – giving parents a better understanding of what’s going on in the classroom.

All of those are positive trends and we should try to increase them – such as pushing to get broadband Internet everywhere in the U.S.  Currently, we are at about 57% penetration of broadband Internet, and that simply is not enough to build a 21st century workforce.

At the same time, we have to be careful about avoiding the negative impacts of technology – especially those that arise during school years when young people’s brains are still developing.  Both Dr. Pruitt-Mentle and Dr. Kim had concerns that young people’s over-indulgence in new communications mechanisms, Facebook, Twitter, and the like are stealing their abilities to focus on one activity.  Dr. Kim went further to say that the new style of communication over these mechanisms is reducing their ability to distinguish between formal and informal language, and can even end up creating a “semi-literate” person.

This constant switching, coupled with the fact that information is often reduced into as few bits and bytes as possible, and available nearly instantly through a search on Google or Wikipedia or other such database-type system, may be reducing our ability to store information and therefore reducing our ability to make well-reasoned decisions.

I sense that this may be true.  It’s one thing to have information available at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse, but when we’re making decisions, all the relevant information has to be in our heads – not on our fingertips.  If we reduce our ability to remember, store, and process data in our heads, we will make less sound decisions.

So how do we guard against this?  Whether these new technologies and communication mechanisms are “good” or “bad”, they are here and we simply have to find a way to use them effectively to reach students and minimize the potential negative consequences.  To do that, we have to find ways to merge their use with more “traditional” mechanisms.  It can be as granular as requiring a certain number of sources to be from online, and a certain number from actual books and reference materials in the library.

We may have to get more creative such as (and this is something we can all do) try to construct the same message within the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter, and also in a full 1,000 word essay.  Can we make our messages more and more concise as well as take that same message and expand it more fully, more Dickensesque?

We can’t avoid modern technologies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, video games, etc., because that is where the kids are now and all indications are that this will be central to our lives going forward.  We have to find a way to incorporate the tools of the modern era and merge it with the age-old approach to teaching the four R’s.


March 5, 2010 - Posted by | Past Episodes


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  3. i agree with what you wrote. we have to use the technology, but to use it in the right place. thanx 🙂

    Comment by Shahad Abdulaziz ☪ (@sheesh777) | August 28, 2012 | Reply

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