TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? by Bonnie Thone Boylan

To preface this article, I originally set out to report on how teachers can best
use technology in the classroom.  Which technologies work best with which
age groups?  Which activities have been used with the most success? What
tips can seasoned teachers provide for us newcomers? It soon became
obvious, though, that incorporating technology into the classroom has its
drawbacks. What follows is what I learned, and I was surprised.

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Even as far back as 1991, 98% of all U.S. schools contained at least one computer. Today, it’s likely ninety-eight computers for every one school.  The classrooms in many school districts contain at least a few computers, there’s often a school computer lab outfitted with desks and computers for an entire class to use at one time, and there’s often a cart or two containing laptops that teachers can wheel into their classroom. In the upper grades and in college, students generally have their own laptop “notebooks” that they carry to class. The newest technology to enter the education arena, however, is the interactive whiteboard, or SMART Board. These combine multimedia functions with internet access and offer educational, interactive programs for teachers and students.
But the pitfalls of too much technology in the classroom are quickly becoming evident. For children, the drawbacks of technology in general, and of the internet in particular, have resulted in cyber bullying and the threat of sexual predators.  Daily newscasts provide a quick glimpse of the perils of technology and in the classroom it can be no less treacherous.
When students in the younger grades use computers for research, which is often its purpose, much time is wasted sifting through the numerous websites for the one that offers the most relevant information. Many websites, Wikipedia for one, often contain inaccurate information. The temptation to browse is huge. A quick stroll through a computer lab finds many students off topic, playing games, shopping, or viewing You Tube. Software filters, installed to prevent students from accessing certain types of websites, aren’t perfect and are not foolproof. At all grade levels, the opportunity and temptation to plagiarize is great and the internet makes it easy. At the upper levels, particularly in college, regular laptop use offers even more distraction. Professors don’t know if a student’s diligently typing notes or updating his Facebook page (or shopping, or researching a paper due in a different course, or talking to their friend in Katmandu). Professors at Harvard, Yale and Columbia have recently banned the use of laptops in their classrooms and lecture halls, citing such distractions. In many classes, the “killswitch” is used when teachers sense that the Wi-Fi connection is being abused.
The second huge drawback of technology in the classroom is the cost. Outfitting a single school with desktop computers, laptops and a few SMART Boards runs into tens of thousands of dollars. Unlike a decade ago, school districts must now employ a technology consultant to address the daily glitches that naturally occur from so much technology use. Much of these costs are necessary and justified. But school districts that indiscriminately purchase x-number of computers, laptops, SMART Boards and the accompanying software are spending money that might have been better spent elsewhere. Training teachers and staff in the use of these new technologies takes money and time, too, further straining school budgets.
Ask two students to look up the definition of a word and one will have barely logged on to dictionary.com when the other one has already taken out her Webster’s from her desk, located the word and has moved on to the next task. Sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way.
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References:
www.genevalogic.com
www.ResponsibilityProject.com
www.smartech.com

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34 responses to “TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? by Bonnie Thone Boylan

  1. Yes, there are some draw backs with technology; however, the possibilities of using technology in your classroom is endless! I am a huge fan of the SMART Boards but they cost a lot of money and many school districts would rather use their money on other things. I feel like SMART Boards are wonderful educational investments that all schools should really consider.

  2. I think many of your concerns can be dealt with by proper education. Students don’t know how to search the web properly. There are many safe websites out there for kids to use but once they are there, they don’t know what to type to best find what they are looking for. Also they need to know what to look for when they do find information to know if it’s from a good source. This doesn’t come overnight, teachers and parents must start from a young age to teach, guide, and monitor kids use of computers and the web. But this is not the only thing students use the web for. If teachers are up to date on the latest technology, they can incorporate online resources, interactive tools, and applications into their curriculum which has been shown to increase students learning. The money issue is one that all schools will continue to face. But I think that if research or studies are done on those schools and it is explained clearly to parents and the public, then they will understand how much it could help the students. Without research highlighting the advantages of using technology then it becomes harder for poorer districts to rationalize purchasing technologies. Overall I believe that education is the key for students using technology in a proper way and the benefits completely out weigh the drawbacks.

  3. I truly agree that although technology has been a great help in today’s society, but it also has harmed the next American generation. I feel that kids have become to lazy an reliant on technology. What happened to the good old pen and paper???

  4. I think it is extremely important to incorporate technology into the classroom; there is no such thing as too much technology .When you look at the world we are living in today. If we let our students lag behind, how are they going to compete with other nations in the world? Our school system needs to step it up. The key is train students and teachers to use the system wisely.

  5. Technology is a useful tool in today’s society. Computers are used in all fields and it is important for students to familiarize themselves with how to use computer programs such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word if they want to maintain a basic office job in the 21st century. Computers are also a convenient way to get information for researching anything. I think the knowledge of writing and reading is important, and should be learned first but technology can be used as a tool to improve the students knowledge.

  6. I agree that there are some draw backs with technology but the possibility and opportunity that we can give to our students by using technology is enormous. I enjoy using technology in the classroom, I feel that in today’s world because of how technologically advanced the world is from way back when it is important that our students stay on top of the technology. The only concern that I have is what happens to students who are less fortunate and are at schools that do not have as much access or access at all to technology in the classroom not to even mention home.

  7. There are most definitely drawbacks when it come to using technology in the classroom, distraction being one of the largest. Teachers also tend to rely on their power-point presentations to present massive amounts of content, when in the more simpler form of explaination and demonstration usually works the best. For the most part, technology is great in the classroom but should NOT be totally replacing the old tried and true methods of teaching.

  8. The integration of technology in the classroom is a virtual necessity in today’s world. I agree that it can be a detriment when taken too far. Thus, it is essential to create a balance to minimize any negative effects. Overall technology is an overwhelming useful tool; both for students and instructors.

  9. Technology in the class room:
    Too much of a good thing?
    By Bonnie Thone Boylan

    I agree with what the author is trying to say. I feel that there too much technology in the classroom. In my opinion, students today rely too much on technology. They are losing their essential skills. For example, the author mentioned at the end of the article that two students had to look up a word. “The first student waited for the computer to warm up, while the second pulled out her Webster dictionary from her desk, looked up the word and moved onto the next task”. This is a classic situation where technology has taken over a students essential skills. I also believe that looking up information on line is not what a student in elementary through high school should be doing. Instead they should do what I did, which was head to the library using the necessary sources to complete the assignments. These sources could range from the thesauruses, dictionary to an encyclopedias. These are just to name some of the many references that we can refer to. But instead these students rush to turn on their computers and start to do their research on line. The author pointed out that some of the websites that these students use are not even correct. Not only are the students losing there essential skills but they are also obtaining incorrect information. Information can be posted on line by anyone, so who is to tell you that what your reading or printing out is correct. Where as when you go to the library you know that the information from a book is correct. Only when you reach collage should you be aloud to use a computer for research. By this time you will be efficient in researching information at the library and will have perfected your essential skills. Hopefully by this time you will be so used to going to the library where reliable resources are available that thinking about using a computer will not even cross your mind. As the author said, “sometimes the old fashioned way is the best way”. You should learn by reading and writing and not by reading and clicking.

    • One of the issues not yet addressed is the public v. private sectors of the internet in regards to research. Online databases like Jstor provide a wealth of research-based articles. However, Jstor is owned by a private company that sells usage rights to individual businesses (think tanks, schools, universities, etc). The rights cost thousands a year for one institution. That is just one example of a tool that is widely used by academics and researchers around the world.

      So, the proper, diverse, and useful research tools are there, they just cost a ton of money. And unfortunately, “google” has become a verb.

  10. In a 20 year time period, computer usage has increased tremendously in U.S. schools. The SMART board is the newest technology to enter the field of education. Boylan stated that there are certain disadvantages in using the computers in the schools. She mentioned cyber bullying, threat of sexual predators, and wasted time. Another big drawback is the cost of computer equipment. I think you have to be careful about which websites you allow students to access because the students may come across internet websites that are inappropriate. However, there are many excellent online educational programs for students. Computers can help to provide differentiated learning. Computers are useful in the classroom if they are used appropriately.

  11. Technology in the classroom is a good thing to have but to an extent. I feel it can almost make the students lazy because of the easy access a computer gives you. I think it is important to use it when necessary, for example when looking up facts and information, typing up reports, etc. I do believe that hands on learning is the way to go. We have become too reliant on technology in the classroom. It should be there as a backup tool, not as a necessity.

  12. Technology is one of the best things to happen to education. i feel that technology has made it easier for children to expand their knowledge on particular subjects. With the use of technology children are learning and most do not even realize that they are. for children reading anything helps a child learn, and most of the time children are reading what is on the internet. Even though the use of the internet can be a huge distraction, i sure do know this, it is also a fun and new way to research your ideas. i am so happy technology has invaded schools because it is an exciting and new way for both the teachers and students to learn together.

  13. In education, I feel that everything must be used in moderation. Too much technology could be harmful because not all students benefit from technology. Education should be diverse and meet the needs of all the children in class. It is important to not only use technology, but to use other teaching strategies in the curriculum.

  14. I do beleive that students are lacking in basic skills due to, in part, by the laziness caused by the increased reliance on technology in society. Yes, a calcualtor can be helpful when doing a “long division problem”, but too much is the case that the use of the calculator has come at the expense of basic multiplication skills. The same idea applies to this “spell-check generation” where student’s rely heavily on this word processing tool. This leads to poor grammar and spelling, but also the increase use of short-hand and internet-messenger lingo that plaques the english language…Be that as it may, technology in the classroom is vital to the kids success. SMART Board technology allows for interactive games that stress vocabulary, basic “times tables” and grammar lessons similar to downloadable applications for an iPhone. This is the classroom of the future that can make up for some of the flaws in classroom technology of the past decade and it will get our children back on the right track.

  15. I agree with this article, however I feel that students should learn on technology of today as well as the old way of chalkboards and writing and taking tests by hand. Instead of Solely learning on Computers and Smartboards it should be integrated with the standard way of learning. In this society we need to keep up with the latest technologies so we are not left behind. We also need to read and write and know how to do research in a library and so on…I am not completely bias to technology but I do not agree with having all this technology in the classrooms.

  16. I think it is essential to make use of technology in the classroom, but I do believe there must be some limitations to students accessing information through the web. It is clear that the internet is not always beneficial for children because it gives them the freedom they desire in searching the web. It is important that we, as teachers and/or parents, set restrictions and be attentive to what they are doing when using a computer. Also, children should be taught how to do things the “old fashion way” as well I agree. With the use of calculators, translators, and the capability of a mobile phone nowadays, children will lose the daily skills of doing things on their own. Although technology is progressing, we must teach children how to do things both ways so they are familiar and can be self sufficient if necessary.

  17. I am a huge fan of smartboard it really gets the students interested. HOWEVER… Although, the teacher has their attention I am not sure if the attention is focused on the lesson or the technology. Smartboard provides so many exciting distractions for the kids. By the end of the year they are used to it and can focus a little more on the teacher rather than what they consider to be a game. Hopefully the more smartboard is being used the less of a distraction it will be.

  18. I agree that there is no substitute for the good old pen and paper. I myself am still holding on to my “old fashioned” daily planner instead of an iphone or blackberry. Where education is concerned, however, I think that the children would be better served if there was proper technology lessons in the early grades. Teach the children how to use the internet and its many resources the right way. This may avoid any problems with wasted time on useless sites. I don’t think any teacher today can deny the upside of having computers or a smartboard in her classroom. It encourages more interaction and freedom between the student and teacher. No technology is foolproof, and a few rules and regulations will go a long way to prevent kids from abusing priveledges. We as teachers have to have a nice balance of “new and old” methods in our classrooms.

  19. I agree with several of the other blogs that have been written before me. I believe that overall technology is a positive aspect to incorporate into our classrooms. Along with these positives there are some negative aspects in which the author has brought to light. If we did not have technology as we do today there would be less cyber bullying, and possibly threats of sexual predators. However, if we take this technology away we are taking the positive opportunities such as the ability to communicate ideas across the world. We have so much to learn from others and the use of technology is our pathway. I also understand the other concern the author spoke of, the great expense this technology has. However, in having these forms of technology we are more effectively teaching our students and better preparing them for their future when they go out in the world and have to use this technology on their own.

  20. Nobody can deny the positive impact of technology in our classrooms and society but at the same time I agree with the author’s concerns. Technology can be a double edge sword, it can be a strong and powerful learning instrument and on the other hand, if students rely too much on technology, their learning skills and abilities of reasoning can be compromised. Two years ago, I had an experience related to this topic. I walked into a store and bought a couple of items, then I went to the cashier to pay for these items; to my surprise the register machine was not working. I handed these two items and a $20 bill to the teenager in front of the register machine, and she looked at me for a while without saying anything. The problem was that she couldn’t figure out my change so I had to assist her in doing a couple of simple mathematical operations. Before I walked out of the store, she told me, “I got so used to computers that I don’t do these things anymore”.

  21. Like several other people who have commented on this story, no one would deny the positive effects technology has on our society. Of course, as the author points out, there are many issues we have been faced with as a result of technology as well. Technology is a wonderful device but it is important that we continue to use the “old fashion ways” of working, reseaching, collecting information, calcualting in conjunction with technology. Students rely way too much on calculators, for example. I have no problme with allowing students to use a calculator when multiplying two and three digit numbers, but it is fair to say that they should all be expected to multiply 4 by 7 in their heads. Like most “great inventions”, there are the pros and the cons. As the article states, sites like Wikipedia who often post incorrect information or students who surf the web instead of listening to lectures in school are not accessing the internet in the most effective way but the important issue here is that at least they are using technology. The hope is that when they do have to do a reasearch paper, they will not only know how to access the internet but they will know how to sift through good sites from the Wikipedias. And perhaps as students surf the web during a lecture, they are going home after class and using their textbook in conjunction with the lecture and notes from class. Like all good ideas, there are issues but if we continue to teach and expose students for example, both the old fashion way as well as the newer ways, then not only will they succeed in the future, but they will be able to compete with those from the past.

  22. I can definitely see how incorporating technology into the classroom has its drawbacks. With the internet comes instant access to numerous forms of information. However, I feel inappropriate use of the internet during in-class lessons should only motivate our educators to be on top of their students in order to make sure the computer is being used most efficiently in the classroom. Technology is an integral part of our daily lives and therefore, should be used in the classroom. For example, the e-mail has allowed us to gain new and convenient ways to communicate. Integrating technology into the class will benefits its students and teachers. Technology helps teachers teach lessons more effectively and are providing their students with the most up to date education. Teaching with technology can attract students with multiple interest by providing learning opportunities in innovative ways. The use of smartboards, wikis and powerpoint help to encourage professionalism and sharing information among peer groups. Incorporating the tools of technology into the classroom instruction can greatly enhance our future generation.

  23. There are drawbacks to technology just as there are drawbacks to just about everything in life, however, neglecting to incorporate culturally relevant technology into the curriculum is a great disservice to all students.

    We tend to think of technology as only recent advances in education, however, textbooks, overhead projectors; even pens started out as new things and quickly became part of the educational zeitgeist.

    Discouraging the use of online research because of Wikipedia is akin to eliminating gym class because someone got hurt. It just doesn’t make any sense to remove an entire relevant category because someone is careless or shortsighted.

    Teachers must keep abreast of technology; every library offers computer classes for free or nearly free. Reference librarians in particular are an invaluable resource for technology as they too have had to meld the old with the new.

    Most students need help with research; they have to know what a scholarly article is and why it is a valid source vs. a random website or blog posting which probably is not. Time spent in the classroom integrating technology correctly will go a long way for students and teachers alike.

  24. I think that technology in the classroom is positive. However, I do agree that it costs a lot of money which can be spent in other areas. But technology is on the rise and like it or not that is the direction our society is moving. I first saw SMART Boards in my last year of college. I thought they were so wonderful. I saw them again in an elementary school in syosset that I observed at. The kids were crazy about the SMART boards and it really grabbed their attention. I think it is necessary for schools to spend the money on this technology because if they don’t it will be the kids who suffer and fall behind other students who’s schools did provide these technologies.

  25. Before reading the article, I thought there were little if any drawbacks to using technology in the classroom but this article did a good job of pointing out the pitfalls. I think a happy medium is best. I don’t see a drawback for using smartboards as these are controlled by the teacher and navigated only by him or her. This is beneficial to students who think the internet is useful only for the recreational ways they use them and an educator can open up students to so many better uses of the internet through the smart board. If individual computers or laptops are being used, I see now that teachers have to limit the use and be very specific in guiding the students to the specific sites for the specific purposes of the lesson.

  26. I agree with the author of the article that sometimes the old way is the best way. The time it takes to learn how to properly use the technology and implement it effectively in the classroom can take away from the time a teacher could be spending on improving the course content or focusing on the students themselves. Technology can be fun and get the attention of students, but it is not always the best way to communicate information to students. Often I think non-technological, hands-on activities could work better in achieving a student’s understanding than using an animation that a student can manipulate on a SMART board. I do think that computers are an asset when students are trying to find information quickly, as long as students are aware of which sites are legitimate for finding such information. It is important to learn the appropriate and effective ways for the uses of technology, which can be time consuming and costly, but if a district is able to provide both teachers and students with that education then they should. It can only benefit those individuals, however at the same time it will create further inequities in education since not all districts have the funds to provide students and teachers with the most up to date technology. Overall, there is a good and bad side to everything and technology is no exception.

  27. While the use of technology in a classroom setting has some concerns regarding costs and distraction, I feel that it’s important to keep up with the times. As the years go by, our society’s culture is shaping it’s individuals into technology savvy people. It is truly amazing the tasks that technology can do for us and the amount of information that we can obtain in just a few seconds. Technology has definitely enhanced our schools as well as supported many students. I think it’s important for students to learn how to use technology because whether we support it or not, it’s still going to impact our way of life.

    If school districts are willing to budget for computers in every classroom, then so be it. It is only going to be another useful and skillful tool for the students.

    As far as the website distraction and cyber bullying, teachers and teacher’s aides are there to monitor the students. I honestly feel that there is no time for a student to fool around on youtube or other websites when the teacher is standing right behind them or they have a project to finish. The other side to the use of technology in the classroom is teaching students how to properly perform research and how to type as well. It’s important for a child to know and use various technology skills. Why not start them early in life?

    Therefore, I feel we SHOULD educate students with the latest equipment and provide them with the amazing enhanced education, technology can provide for us.

  28. Pingback: Too much of a good thing? « Linemansgrl's Blog

  29. It is imperitive to bring technology into the classroom being that students need to be familiar with it in order to succeed in today’s society. The only problem is that the schools seem to be the last to acquire the latest and greatest technology. It has become increasingly harder for schools to get funding for new computers, SMART Boards, high speed internet installation, and the like. Students end up being the ones who suffer from the lack of technology and something needs to be done about it.

  30. i think its important to incorporate technology into the classroom because students are brought up with technology. Technolgy is a beautiful thing because theres so much you can do with computers. However, teachers and aides within the classroom need to monitor what the students are doing on the computer and giving them specific websites they can go on.

  31. Pingback: Technology in the Classroom: Cons | KHS Technology Education Blog

  32. Yes I agree that there are drawbacks to the use of technology in the classroom. However, in order to stay current and in competition with other countries it is important to incorporate technology into the curriculum. SMART Boards are a great way a teacher could use modern technology in the classroom. While they do cost a lot of money they have many benefits and provide a teacher with resources that were once not an option. When it comes to the increased plagiarism due to the internet and technology I feel it is educators responsibility to start educating students at an early age what it is and ways to avoid doing it. Technology might have its cons but it should be incorporated into classrooms and the curriculum.

  33. I believe technology in the classroom is for the msot part a good thing. Teachers are using these smartboards and it seems to be catching the eye of the students and keeping their attention. Students grow up around technology so its essential that they use some of it in the classroom , but when it comes to cell phones, games, and other devices that distract the students it begins to be a problem.

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