Should Technology Be Used in K-12 Classrooms?
Since the 1980s, classrooms have been incorporating technology in various forms. In the beginning, many schools began to use computers in classrooms, and by the 1990s, computer labs became more widespread. In the early 2000s, schools incorporated digital projectors and multimedia presentations into daily teachings. In the recent decade, the use of technology in classrooms has surged. As technology has become more accessible, it leads to more availability to incorporate technology into everyday learning and teaching. According to New Schools Venture Fund, more than 63% of students use technology such as a laptop, tablet, or cell phone as a part of their daily learning. Many developments in interactive apps and software have also made it possible for teachers to make their teaching lessons more interactive and engaging. For example, many teachers use Kahoot, Quizlet, Edpuzzle, Nearpod, and Flipgrid, to keep students engaged and focused. It also allows teachers to easily tailor different teaching strategies to other students.
Share of K-12 Students in the United States who used digital learning tools in 2019
One of the most significant benefits of technology in education is the ability to make learning more accessible. The internet has made it possible for students to access educational material no matter where they are. For example, a student that goes to school in California would be able to access school materials if they went to travel to New York as long as there is an internet connection. Many developments in online courses and e-learning platforms have made education flexible, allowing students to learn at their own pace and schedule. In a digital world now, so much information is now available from all over the world and can be found in various forms, including Google Slides, research materials, 3D calculators, digital libraries, and much more. With these resources, students have plenty of ways to learn what they want. Technology can also facilitate collaboration and communication between students. Students can work on group projects using various websites from wherever they are. Teachers have also had positive feedback about incorporating technology into their daily teaching. It also makes it easier for teachers to track student progress and allow them to tailor their lessons to meet each student's needs and personalize learning for each student. According to The Journal, a survey conducted on teachers has found that 75% find that digital technologies have had an extremely positive impact on education, and 25% say that it has had both positive and negative effects.
While technology has many benefits for education, there are also potential drawbacks that should be considered. With the widespread availability of digital devices, it has become easier for students to become distracted during class. Some students will utilize technology by playing games and being on social media. According to the National Library of Medicine,” Youth’s high levels of media use may displace time spent in more productive educational activities such as doing homework and engaging in cognitively stimulating learning activities”, showing how access to social media is pushing students away from learning. Students can also be overly dependent on technology for learning and can easily search for answers to assignments on the internet. This can lead to poor critical thinking skills and won’t help students learn the material. Minnetonka Public Schools, a public district in Minnesota, allows each student in the school district to have one iPad for learning. A Minnetonka Middle School West teacher has stated, “It is great when students use technology appropriately and I can see how iPads have made my students more excited to learn as they are motivated to win games like Kahoots and GamKits. However, it sometimes causes a distraction in class. For example, one of my students was playing the March Madness game on their iPad and it because of a distraction not only for him but also for other students as well.”
In recent years, schools have begun to test incorporating virtual reality, and artificial intelligence to enhance learning experiences. These systems use machine learning algorithms to analyze students’ learning patterns and adapt instruction to their needs. In addition, these artificial intelligence have incorporated features that allow students are able to take virtual field trips where they can visit places that are far away from them. AI chatbots also help answer frequently asked questions from students so they can receive an answer to their questions immediately. However, there are also many concerns with using AI in classrooms, one being the potential of leaking private information about students. This is because AI systems often collect and process large amounts of data about students, which, if used in a classroom setting, systems would be collecting data about personal information and academic performance. If this data is misused, it could be harmful to students and families. These AI systems can also be trained under certain biases or stereotypes, which could have a negative impact on different groups of students. The use of artificial intelligence in classrooms has also raised a number of ethical questions, including whether or not it is ethical to use AI algorithms to grade student work or a source of deciding the student’s placement in classes.
There is no doubt that technology will become more advanced in the future and become more incorporated into the classroom. Certainly, the benefits of technology cannot be rejected, but for students in K-12 who can get easily sidetracked or do not have an awareness of addiction, actions could be taken. More awareness should be brought towards this topic, especially among school administration, review boards, classroom teachers, and student parents to initiate restrictions. If the piece of technology, such as an iPad, is monitored by the school district, blocking off certain applications and websites could prevent students from becoming distracted. For example, in the Minnetonka school district, school administration has taken off the app store to download apps, and created their own version of the app store for students to only download educational applications. In the classroom, teachers should only have students have their devices open when engaging in classroom online activities. Teachers have also suggested that parents to make monitor the student’s usage of the device, making sure at home, they are using it appropriately. Teachers should also work with parents should establish clear rules and guidelines for when digital devices can be used and how long they can be used. Clear guidelines should also be established regarding what content is allowed and what behaviors are to be expected of the students. Classroom teachers should also still incorporate activities that do not require technology in the classroom and encourage students to collaborate with each other. Schools should consider the amount of time spent using technology because a healthy balance has proven beneficial to students’ mental health. Many futures on technology now nowadays also allow students to monitor their screen time and set certain limits on screen time. This could be a good way for students to keep track of their screen usage and remind them to get back on task.