During my senior year of high school, every student was forced to purchase a laptop to use through out the day at our school. I wasn’t that opposed to this notion because I was going to get a laptop for the beginning of college only a year later, but I still wondered, was it really necessary that all these students have a laptop? Did a bunch of sixth graders need laptops to take their focus away from their already history or math lesson when they already had a short attention span? Did my school, Northridge Prep, realize that there were some families who had 3-4 children in the school, and this new requirement would cause the family to spend somewhere between $3,000-$4,000 to keep their children at this private school. This was the first time I really thought about whether technology was that necessary in a classroom.
Now, almost 2 years later, I firmly believe that yes, those laptops my high school required were necessary. When I visited my old high school a year and half after I graduated (during my freshmen year springbreak), I was dumbfounded by what I saw.
It was paperless.
As I walked through the halls, looking into classroom after classroom, all I saw were students looking at their screens, looking up to their teacher, and looking back down. The only exception to this religious form of teaching was band class; there were still a couple of sheets of music in there. Even students in chemistry labs read the lab’s procedures off their computers. I talked to my senior year English teacher about what he thought about this fast-paced transition to technology (even though the public schools around my small private school made the “technological transition” one year before us). Mr. Maggio said he was apprehensive at the beginning but learned how much more manageable it made his classroom. All social-media sites were blocked, along with game sites and other distractible websites. My school from a year earlier was a stranger to me, it seemed that education itself had completely changed.
This brings me back to the original question. Is it necessary that teachers use these types of technologies in their classroom? My answer is yes. There are many reasons behind my final decision.
In my senior year of high school, I graduated with a class of 34 students, our average ACT was a 25, which was above average for our school and higher than any school in the suburbs around us. The next year’s class, where technology was implemented in every class, graduated with an average ACT of 27, the highest average in our high school’s history.
Even more, as a future special ed teacher, I think the benefits of technology can be even greater. Last year I did a project for my CI 199 James Scholar course where I analyzed another professor’s data about whether a special ed class preferred regular books or e-books. 18 of the 27 students said they preferred reading from the e-book because of its interactive qualities and games, it’s easy to access features, and it’s abilities to highlight, take notes, and look up words with the touch of your finger. The 9 students who didn’t prefer the e-book noted that they didn’t care what they read out of, and when they were asked to write down why they preferred one over the other, the students wrote things like, “Harder to find functions on iPad,” “Menu bar is confusing,” and “Initially confusing to learn controls.” It seemed that most of the student’s problems weren’t with the technology itself, but the initial process of learning to how to use and access the different features the technology offered.
The subject I hated the most in high school was chemistry. I had this boring, monotone teacher who taught from the book and he hated using any technology, including power points. This was the first time I had ever gotten a “B” in a science course. It was really hard for to me process how elements reacted together and how different structures were built up of different molecules.
After I watched this futuristic video:
, I thought of much easier it would have been for me to understand these chemical structures if I could see it in this interactive, three-dimensional form.
Every decision made today in changing education is data-driven, and the current research backs up the idea that technology can help excite and motivate kids in their education. Therefore, I think its necessary that teachers incorporate and teach students how to use technology.