The Old School Blame Game About Technology
By Martha Sessums
There is a mix of magic and misunderstanding in technology.
The magic is amazing. The visual experience of an interactive e-magazine on an iPad is truly jaw dropping. The ability to find information on any person, place or thing is helpful. The ability to map the location, especially if you are late or lost, is more than helpful. If you have an Internet connection, you have access to instantaneous information, no matter who you are.
The misunderstanding is huge too. From the first time that technology, in the form of television, entered our homes, there were warnings of its perceived danger. Even Edward R. Murrow, a pioneering broadcast journalist, said “television is the opiate of the people.” Now, the opiate is “Angry Birds.”
With today’s students, life with technology is the norm. It is the way things are done. We text each other. We google topics, people, quotes, books, poems and anything else needed for our research papers, blogs or social network. We read the news online and look at amazing pictures of hurricane Sandy’s damage to the east coast. We tweet about what we hear, see and do. We also learn more about history, math, science, physics, literature, writing and any other topic through using technology. And it’s fast. Immediate information is in our pocket and our classrooms. Technology helps us learn.
But there are always reports about how technology affects us. The Pew Internet Project, a division of the Pew Research Center focused on technology-related research, and Common Sense Media, an organization in San Francisco that researches how children use media, published independent reports on how technology is changing the way students research and learn. NYTimes – Technology Changing How Students Learn
Both reports claim that students who use digital technology in their lives are an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans,” says Pew, and that educators fear that technology does “more to distract students than help them academically.” SFChron – Teachers Call Online Search Mixed Bag
But Pew also showed that teachers recognize that they play a big roll in helping students think critically as they learn how to better use modern research tools. What some label a “distraction” is actually the modern skill of quick processing of information. Brains weaned on technology work faster. They get the information needed, and move on.
Sometimes student brains move on without fully understanding the information, which is where good teaching comes in. The ACE schools teach using the benefits of technology – quick access to information, games which help simplify and teach, the ability to repeat a lesson without interfering with the class’ progress, insightful data on students which helps a teacher understand individual progress and using visuals and other techniques to elucidate the lesson for all types of learners.
Yes, sitting in front of a computer or a screen for long hours is unhealthy for a lot of reasons. But technology used with modern teaching techniques that keep up with today’s learners that are highly skilled at quickly shifting their attention is just a requirement of today’s education industry. It is preparing our students for 21st century jobs. We must all keep up.