Technology and School, for Better and Worse

Article by Espi Littlefield, Writer

On ASIJ’s campus, technology is everywhere: iPads, computers, and iPhones are used from the ELC up through high school, in the classroom, on the buses, in the hallways. The primary use of technology at ASIJ in recent years has been to enhance and deepen understanding of the topics being learned. However, does technology actually improve one’s quality of learning?

ASIJ, along with most other schools worldwide, has integrated technology into the curriculum. This addition has changed the way students of all ages work and learn. Now, not only do students have a handful of teachers at school, but also thousands available online. 

There are pros and cons to the addition of technology in schools. According to an article published by the US Department of Education, “Historically, a learner’s educational opportunities have been limited by the resources found within the walls of a school.” Technology extends the classroom endlessly, allowing students to pursue interests and classes that may not be available at their school. Technology also provides resources for students, such as online dictionaries, thesauruses, and customized learning experiences on websites such as IXL, Membean, Delta Math, and more. Online education also engages students, providing instant feedback and help.

However, there is a considerable amount of research demonstrating the harmful effects of technology on students. A study conducted by Princeton University and UCLA showed a significant difference between longhand notes and typing notes in the retention of material learned. Since typing is almost six times faster than writing, students are more likely to transcribe their teacher’s lectures. Handwriting, on the other hand, forces students to be selective with what they write and process the information given. 

In addition, technology can facilitate and increase the chances of students cheating. The constant lure of using another’s work as their own is something some students fall prey to. Even ASIJ has been forced to address the issue of cheating, adding an “honor pledge” to major assignments and tests in recent years.

Another common problem with laptops, especially for teenagers, is the other apps and websites that could be a distraction. “When my homework is on my computer, I find it really hard to finish it because I get distracted. When I have paper homework, I do it a lot better and a lot faster because I can leave my computer downstairs,” said Noa Brown, a freshman at ASIJ.

Opinions on technology vary from teacher to teacher at ASIJ. “Technology offers unlimited access to information, both visual and written,” stated Javier Fernandez, a Spanish teacher at ASIJ for over 25 years.  “There’s a place for technology, where there’s a value. But it can also make people intellectually lazy. I believe that the most important thing is human connection, and if technology destroys that, then I think it has no place in a classroom.” 

Samarie Rodriguez, a counselor in the High School said, “Technology is great in the classroom when used the right way. It can help kids gain a deeper understanding of a topic, or get more help. However, it can cause a distraction or be unhelpful in the classroom if used unethically.” 

In a school where technology plays a huge part in our everyday lives, it is impossible to ignore the impact it has on our community. Where do you stand?