Learning through technology: debated

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Learning through technology: debated

Drawing by Jaden Schiffhauer

Drawing by Jaden Schiffhauer

Drawing by Jaden Schiffhauer

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Over the years, technology has become more commonly used in schools worldwide. It has become not only an instrument for learning, but also a tool used by teachers to structure lessons and teach their classes.

Although technology has its benefits, in a recent interview Psychology Professor Patricia Greenfield from the University of California, Los Angeles expressed concerns about the extent to which technology is being used in classrooms.

In 2014 she worked on a study that highlighted the effects technology use has on the way people communicate and the personal connections that it hinders.

Greenfield feels that the results of her study are applicable to classroom technology specifically, and is “very concerned about the devaluing of the teacher-student relationship… because of the overuse of educational technology.”

Many students are finding that the use of Chromebooks and other computers are necessary to succeed at school and that many of their classes are structured around online activities.

Senior David Lefevre sees benefits in online learning due to accessibility and ease of use.

“[Technology] makes it easier to do homework, because papers are easier to lose. It helps me stay organized,” he said. “There are also lots of resources online, like Khan Academy and Google Classroom… which we use pretty often.”

Junior Amanda Rau also often uses technology in her classes.

“Almost every class has aspects of technology in them,” she said. “I bring my computer to school almost every day, and I use it in two, if not all of my classes.”

Although she shares the view that working online can help students stay organized, Rau believes that technology nonetheless has its pitfalls.

“As a visual and tactile learner I would prefer face-to-face learning,” she said. “It’s easy to get distracted when only on your computer… If all of our work is online it discourages cooperation and communication.”

History teacher Blair Hennessy also has reservations about the use of online activities during class but believes they have their benefits.

“Because our devices are designed to stimulate and often distract, I often feel hesitant to include them in a lesson. I have found though, that if I use them with lots of guidance, they can be a real asset,” she said.

In classes, Henessy tries only to use technologies that she believes make student involvement with classroom material more straightforward.

“I typically just use Google Classroom, but two new apps that I am loving are Edpuzzle and FlipGrid. EdPuzzle allows me to embed comprehension questions into YouTube videos… FlipGrid allows students to record videos and submit them… I always strive to use [technology] in ways that promote student engagement and enthusiasm for our content.”

Math teacher Adam Bander uses a variety of different online resources, such as Google Classroom, Desmos and Khan Academy to help teach his students.

He finds that it allows him “to provide many more resources for students and to make them available at all times… [so] students are able to learn more independently and at their own pace.”

Bander worries about the possible isolating effects of too much time spent using web-based technology but is working on ways to combat them. He also ultimately believes that they have positive effects on students’ education.

“I think the resources available for students, when organized and prepared into lessons in a logical way, should certainly break down a lot of barriers to learning that once existed,” he said. “The tools at our disposal now really make it possible for students to explore topics in a way that was very difficult to do before.”