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Validity of Online Tools for Class

by Kristina Howell, Copy Editor

by Summer McGrogan

Technology has increased a great deal in the classroom lately. Leigh’s classes are slowly integrating Chromebooks, everything is done through Google Classroom or Drive, and even lower schools are getting homework online, some going as far as having an iPad for each elementary schooler. These developments are very important in the Silicon Valley, but do they have a place in education?

Using tools like Google Classroom does have large benefits, including keeping everything well-organized for teachers and saving paper, but it may not be the best option for students. One of the largest problems is that it can be too easy to become distracted. In fact, in a study done at Carnegie Mellon University, students interrupted by technology scored 20 percent lower on an exam than their peers. Many students will try to stay on task, but others will find online games like Mario and Snake and play them while the teacher is talking. They’re not necessarily trying to disrespect the teacher, or distract anyone else, but technology may make it easier for them to find a way out of complete engagement in a lecture. Administrators can supposedly see what a student is doing on the computer at any given time, but this has done little to deter the games or frequent checks of social media.

“Technology is good if you’re trying to find information on short notice and you can’t get help from anybody, but I think it’s also bad in a way that it takes over… I think a lot of people, the minute that there’s free time, they go on social media and won’t actually communicate,” said Sicily Soltero, senior.

There have also been many studies such as those done by Anne Mangen showing that people absorb less from a screen than paper, making chapters of online text a method of studying that may actually hurt a student’s chances come test time. There’s also often less interaction between students and teachers when there’s a barrier of computers, and it can sometimes be hard to give a teacher one hundred percent when the computer’s on your desk.

Despite its downsides, technology does offer a lot of variety of activities in a classroom, many of which can be very beneficial in terms of learning.

“In general, I think [technology] is very helpful. I think that, with technology, we can engage students more in lessons. For example, the Nearpod system I can use to make my PowerPoint lectures a lot more engaging to students. They can actually do quizzes and take polls and stuff like that right along with the lecture notes, but in addition, having and being able to use Chromebooks, they can do a lot of research in class and can engage in a lot more different types of project-based learning and assessments, and I think that’s beneficial all around,” said Jennifer Lynn, science teacher.

However, a classroom should not be completely centered around technological developments. At most, it should feature them as supplements because of all of the negative aspects they still bring.

Technology outside of the classroom can also be less than ideal. When teachers assign a lot of homework assignments online, it can be difficult for people constantly on the go to complete them in the allotted time.

With all of this technology, students do have a wide spectrum of learning tools, which can be hugely beneficial, but the constant presence of technology that a student can interact with in a classroom can also affect their education negatively.