Technology vs textbooks


TECH AND TEENS- Freshmen Jonas Aloula (left) and Ryan Capalbo (right) write essays on computers in the library. Writing digitally with automatic spell-check and grammar corrections has changed the way students write essays. "Being able to type and see exactly what mistakes I'm making has made it much easier to recognize those mistakes on my own when I'm writing on paper." said Ana Ramirez, a junior at MHS.

Camryn Souders, Staff Reporter

For years, parents, teachers and students have debated the presence of technology in the classroom. There have been many schools that have switched to electronic education and many schools that have banned any and all technology including personal cell phones. Technology has some downsides, but society should realize the benefits outweigh the adverse effects.

The reality of today is that knowing how to use technology is a life skill. Fiona Macaulay, a CEO and economics expert, reports more than 50 percent of jobs require some ability to use technology. That number is expected to jump to 77% in the next 10 years. Keeping students from learning how to type and use programs means preventing them from being qualified for a job in the future.

CLASSROOM USE- Senior Jannel Brown uses her cellphone to complete assignments in her English class. Using phones has made it so teachers no longer have to move their entire class to a computer lab or the library. “Personally, I feel that having my own device to do work on is better. I can do it at home if I don’t finish in class and can easily take it to our teacher to ask for help.” Brown said.

Some argue that focusing on those skills means missing out on social interaction, but that is not true. Many programs have times in the class where partner work is needed to complete the assignment. Students would still be responsible for presentations and verbal discussions on the material.

Another benefit of using online programs is that students can work at their own pace. In one school, the RAND Corporation found that switching to a technology-based curriculum doubled their national ranking, bringing them from the 33 to 64 percentile. Being able to slow down if help is needed would help teachers address what to focus on when instructing a class as well as keeping students from falling behind when they are not as fast as the course is moving.

On the other hand, people who disagree with technology in school say that not every student can teach themselves. An important thing to realize is that having tablets instead of textbooks does not eliminate a teacher. Struggling students would still be able to reach out and get guidance in person.

In America, about 25% of freshmen do not end up graduating on time. If schools had a better way to engage students, maybe that statistic could be lowered. More than two-thirds of the teachers surveyed by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) agreed that using technology in the classroom increases their student’s motivation to learn.

It is easy to claim the reason that students get invested in technology is for the wrong reason- using it to search the internet and go on apps. In actuality, most schools would have enough sense to install an app on tablets that would prevent installation of other apps and have internet that blocks certain websites.

“Having it puts our school into the 21st century. It also prepares our students for careers in business, engineering, and electronics. Without it, we couldn’t do online testing or give more resources to students who need more time with math and reading.” Manatee High technology specialist, Dr. Pearl, stated when asked about what the benefits of technology in school is. The only downside he stated was how difficult it is to manage all of it.

Having technology become more important would revolutionize schools. Classrooms would have engaged, skilled, self-confident students. Choosing to stay with out of date textbooks and methods that cannot help every student is not beneficial. It is keeping students from reaching their full potential.