Education is an important component of modern society and policymakers are constantly taking steps to ensure that students are provided with the best quality of education. In recent years, there has been a move towards using technology to enhance the learning experience of students. Educational institutes have exploited advances in information technology to increase teacher efficiency and effectiveness. Over the years, the use of technology in schools has expanded and today, most institutions use technology such as computers, mobile devices, and the internet in the typical classroom setting. The prevalence of technology use by educators can be expected to increase since technology is projected to play a significant role in the future of education provision. While technology enthusiasts see the wide-scale adoption of technology in schools as a positive thing, opponents argue that increased use of technology in the classroom might in fact hurt student learning. These two viewpoints have their own merits since technology has both positive and negative impacts. This paper will argue that the increasing reliance on technology in schools is doing more harm than good for the students.
How Technology Hurts Students
A major concern about technology is that it provides too much autonomy to the student. This is especially the case when students are using computers or mobile devices in the classroom setting. It is easy for the student to divert from the material being taught in class and instead focus on the subjects that interest him/her. Buch and Davis assert that the productivity of students in class is decreased when they use technology to engage in non-educational activities during class time (46). Unlike in a traditional classroom where the teacher can easily supervise the activity of the student, technology such as mobile devices make it hard or even impossible for teacher supervision. Without this supervision, there will be limited accountability by the student and this will adversely affect his/her learning outcomes.
Technology exposes the student to too much information leading to an information overload, which is detrimental to the learning outcomes. By connecting to the internet, students are able to access an overwhelming amount of information on any topic. Technology increases the scope of material available to students and they can engage in exploratory learning by following links to additional material (Spector and Ifenthaler 44). While this might be an advantage since it increases the knowledge base of the students, it severely degrades the quality of learning done by the student. Without the proper control of the teacher, students will suffer from an information overload. In addition to this, there is the risk that students will access information that is faulty or lacks credibility when using the internet. Such a risk is minimal in the traditional classroom where students make use of credible source material recommended by the teacher.
Over reliance on technology puts students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds at a disadvantage since these students lack effective access to communication resources. While most people in the developed world have access to telecommunication resources, there still exists a technological divide based on socio-economic levels (Viaene 760). Due to this divide, students from poor households are likely to lack access to the resources that the technologically driven classroom requires. This places such students at a disadvantage since they are unable to take part in the class on the same level as the students who have access to the communication resources. Viaene declares that increasing the use of technology without considering this technological divide enhances the social inequalities that education attempts to bridge (761).
Increased reliance on technology raises the likelihood that students will engage in unethical conduct in school. Risquez asserts that ethical conduct is crucial for the integrity of the educational outcomes of the students (750). For this reason, all institutions have high ethical standards that students must follow. One major rule imposed by all schools is that students must not engage in academic misconduct. To ensure that this rule is followed, educators monitor students during exams and impose huge penalties for plagiarism. However, the increased use of technology makes it easy for students to carry out academic misconduct without being detected. Due to the ease with which information can be exchanged through technology, students are able to collude with each other during exams or assignments (Risquez 751). Using technological means such as emails and instant messages, students are able to obtain solutions from their peers instead of independently working on their own problems. This unethical conducts harm students by promoting fraud.
A Case for Technology
Advocates of the increased use of technology in school declare that it makes the learning process interesting. By use of methods such as animated presentations and graphical simulations, technology is able to captivate the students during the learning process (Buche and Davis 41). This is an important advantage for maintaining student interest in class is critical to enhancing understanding of the subject. The educational outcomes of students are therefore improved when technology is used in the classroom. While it is true that technology can help capture the attention of students, it is not the sole means through which student attentiveness can be ensured. Teachers can also use non-technological means to maintain students’ interest in the topic. For example, student interest can be fostered by using teaching aids such as models and charts.
Students are able to involve themselves in continual knowledge construction outside the classroom setting by the use of technology. The technology-oriented classroom makes use of mobile devices and applications. Since these devices are highly portable, the student can move around with them outside of class and engage in knowledge addition from any location (Risquez 755). By using technology, the student is able to become a knowledge builder who adds to the information gained from class at any time. This continuous learning contributes to better academic results by the student. However, while technology might encourage continual knowledge construction outside the classroom setting, this form of learning is mostly dependent on the enthusiasm of the individual student. If a student is not inspired to learn, he/she will not exploit technology to obtain educational knowledge outside the class setting. On the same note, students who are motivated will engage in continual knowledge construction outside the class even without the aid of technology.
Another significant advantage of technology is that it enables students to learn at a comfortable pace. Spector and Ifenthaler explain that students have different learning styles and varying levels of understanding (12). Without technology, all the students would be subjected to the same learning style and they would be taught at a uniform pace. This would be disadvantageous especially for students who learn at a slower pace. With technology use, students can use educational tools that facilitate self-pacing. Since most learning applications are user driven, the student is able to learn more efficiently and at a pace that he/she is comfortable with. However, it should be noted that self-pacing might be detrimental to the learning outcomes of the student if it is done without the supervision of the teacher. The student might lag behind due to a lack of the motivation provided by the teacher in the traditional classroom setting.
This paper set out to highlight that the current increase in the use of technology in the education sector is mostly detrimental to the student. It began by acknowledging that technology is starting to play a significant role in the education field. The paper then underscored some of the ways in which technology can hurt the learning outcomes of students. It noted that the overuse of technology can decrease teacher influence and student efficiency in the classroom. The increased use of technology can also disadvantage students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and promote academic misconduct. The paper also noted that technology can play a positive role by promoting interest in class and encouraging continual knowledge construction by students. From the arguments raised in this paper, it is clear that technology can play a significant role in enhancing the educational experience of the student. However, technology can only have an overall positive impact if the harmful effects of implementing technology are dealt with. This can be achieved by implementing technology in schools at a reduced pace and with the involvement of teachers. If this is done, the education sector will be able to reap the benefits of technology leading to better learning outcomes for students.
Buche, Mari and Davis Larry. “Does Technology Acceptance Affect E-learning in a Non-Technology-Intensive Course?” Journal of Information Systems Education 23.1 (2012): 41-50.
Risquez, Angelica. “Technology enhanced learning and plagiarism in entrepreneurship education.” Education Training 53.8 (2011): 750-761.
Spector, Michael and Ifenthaler Dirk. Learning and Instruction in the Digital Age. Springer, 2010. Print.
Viaene, Jean-Marie. “Human Capital and Inequality Dynamics: The Role of Education Technology.” Economica 76.304 (2009): 760-778.