JohnK Wright, V M.S.
Math Teacher at The Einstein School
Technology Resources is a great tool, but not the end all of teaching & education. You can give a student a pencil, paper and a dictionary and they will have all the tools they need to write a paper.
A few years ago, my former school decided to purchase laptops for the school so we had 40 laptops assigned to each classroom. It guaranteed that every student had access to their online high school curriculum, ability to write their essays, research papers, reports, etc, look up information online, etc. What we found out that compared to the previous year where we had about 15 computers in the classroom, and we had to rotate students on and off the computers, while allowing those to work on their bookwork, that our overall school/classroom productivity actually decreased. Why?
1. In the previous setup the computers were facing the wall where the teachers in the classroom could physically monitor what each student was working on. The students not on the computers were doing their work at their tables using textbooks and/or worksheets/reading/etc. This was easily monitored.
2. When we provided laptops to every student, we found that students were abusing the intent of what the laptops were really designed to do as an educational tool. Students were using them to go on Facebook, Chatting, Listening to music, watching Youtube Videos, Watching movies on Netflix,etc. Without having necessary software control to restrict those sites, students were being heavily distracted. We saw our overall Individual Semester Quarter Completions drop as to previous years. Teachers spent more time having to monitor what the students were using the laptops for. Students could easily minimize the windows to “appear” to be working.
3. I still had problems with students not utilizing the potential of what they had. In the old days, one had to go to a library, look for books, get your resources and references. Students had to use problem solving skills to find their solutions. Having access to this technology made it too easy, and with our generation of students who want instant access, this is what we got. Students would type in their math equations, social studies questions, etc, into search engines like Google, Ask, Yahoo, etc. and websites and references would come up with the answers. Students did not have to worry about the process of how they got the answer. That was what was important. I had a student a few years ago who had to write a paper on a famous individual. I read his paper and then I copied some of his text into a search engine. It turns out he copied the entire text from Wikipedia word for word. I failed him and had him redo it. This was a Senior and he was mad at me because I was the first teacher who caught him doing this. He was the same student who would tell me after 5 mins that he could not find a particular topic on the internet and gave up. I typed in some specific words and found several articles that he needed. Kids don’t realize that when they search for information, that there are sometimes hundreds and thousands of other entries not displayed on the screen. It is not feasible or practical to go through that, but this is where students need to be better problem solvers.
4. Just because this generation of students can program applications, use their smart phones, use Facebook, Twitter,YouTube,etc., does not make them technological savvy. Have the same students write a resume, a research paper, essay,college application,etc. The problem is that the technology needs to be treated as a tool. Calculators are useful tools when placed in the hands of someone who has demonstrated the mathematical concepts prior. Laptops and Tablets are great tools for using them to research topics, read ebooks, write essays and documents, prepare PowerPoint Presentations, etc, but it is not just simply turning in your textbooks and giving them laptops/tablets.
Learning is ongoing.