The use of computing technology by students is higher than ever before. A study conducted by the Educause Center showed that more than 95 percent of students surveyed owned computers. A significant portion of male students, more than 5 percent, confessed to spending up to 40 hours in a week while online (Guess 1). This trend has made policymakers and lecturers concerned that the use of technology by students may not be as productive as it is perceived to be. Different people hold different opinions about the controversial issue of whether technology should be part of the learning process. This paper is an investigation of the appropriateness of allowing students to use technology while they are in school.
A lot has been said about the digital natives who are currently in college or even entering college. These students have been raised in environments surrounded by technological equipment. They are technology-savvy and they spend a lot of time using their computers, iPods, laptops, or even smartphones (Kvavik 1). The issue of allowing these digital natives access to technology during the learning process has therefore attracted a lot of controversy due to the threat it poses to the learning process.
The biggest challenge in using computers and technology in the classroom, and allowing students to use technology during learning is that students tend to become irresponsible when permitted to use technology. The advent of internet technology brought with it many applications, which can potentially divert the attention of a student even in class. Such applications include social networking sites, which include Facebook, Twitter, etc. Other influential applications include YouTube and instant messaging services offered by social networks and email services like Gmail. If students are permitted to use technology in class, some of them will engage in online activities and lose track of what is being done in class, be it lessons or assignments (Colb 1). Other students may even use the internet for addictive and unethical practices like online gambling or watching explicit materials online.
It is indubitable that in a class where a teacher uses technology to aid instruction in the classroom students will be more excited and eager to learn (Bernard 1). This is contrasted with a class where conventional teaching methods are used. The same will be the case with a classroom in which a teacher allows students to use the internet and other technology utilities in class to research their topics of interest. Technology use by students can also be productive in the sense that students who use it for academic purposes are likely to develop in-depth skills that will make them achievers in school and later in life. This is because they will be able to engage in inquiry-based and hands-on learning.
There is a myriad of computer applications, which can be used for instruction. For instance, a college student studying architecture will profit from using computer applications during learning, as they will enable him/her to draw analogies, analyze data, etc. This does not only apply to architecture as different applications fit best in different majors. It is easier to explain certain ideas using technology devices than when without them. For instance, when explaining the parts of a complex machine, and engineering tutor will explain better by projecting an image of the machine and explaining while pointing at specific parts. A tutor may also want to share an informative YouTube video, or even share information in a blog. All these technology utilities will make it easy for students to understand their course content.
It is, however, crucial to keep in mind that without proper guidance and monitoring, students may not get the best out of technology utilities. Teachers should particularly be keen to notice any form of technology misuse to ensure that students do not miss valuable information due to addiction to technology. Students also need to ensure that they use technology for the right purpose at the right time. For instance, if students are permitted to enter their classrooms with their laptops and broadband modems, they should access the internet only when they are instructed to do so. They should also ensure that after accessing the internet, they use it for the purpose that their tutor has explained to them (McNeely 1). This will not only ensure that the students are on the same page as far as the explanations by the teacher are concerned, but it will also help to minimize cases of technology addiction common among students.
As evidenced in the discussion above, the use of technology by students should be permitted in educational institutions. Teachers should find appropriate ways of using technology and find applications that suit their lessons best. They should also ensure that students use technology productively. This will result in a learning environment where students are excited to attend classes, and where they understand ideas better than they would understand without the use of technology.
Bernard, Sara. “How Should We Use Technology in Schools? Ask Students.” Mind Shift 12.1 (2010): n. pag.
Colb, Sherry. Should Law Students’ Use of Laptops Be Limited to Prevent Web-Surfing in Class? FindLaw. 2009. Web.
Guess, Andy. Students’ Evolving Use of Technology. Inside Higher Ed. 2007.
Kvavik, Robert. Convenience, Communications, and Control: How Students Use Technology. Educause. 2011. Web.
McNeely, Ben. Using Technology as a Learning Tool, Not Just the Cool New Thing. Educause. 2011. Web.