Is technology in the classroom a good idea?


Like many high school students, Jenna was forced to hand write assignments for her college preparatory English course.

Instead of embracing the power of word processors, her instructor insisted that every draft be hand written to avoid plagiarism. Her instructor’s misunderstanding of technology led to misguided rules in an effort to decrease cheating in the classroom.

In Jenna’s case, plagiarism didn’t decrease, but her engagement certainly did.

Some instructors, however, see technology as a way to engage students in the classroom. A recent U.S. News & World Report article describes how several educators are going high-tech to engage students and are finding ways to use technology to enhance their classrooms.

The rise of information availability on the internet is a large part of the struggle that collegiate professors are facing. What should educators do about wireless and near 100% mobile device penetration in the classroom? Glenn Platt, professor of interactive media studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio has this to say:

Professors are not so much people who stand and spout facts with students taking notes. The Internet has all of the information. And students aren’t going to come to class for a lecture if it’s on a podcast. So that means many instructors are trying to make the classroom more interactive.

The question is how do we achieve the ever elusive interactive classroom? What technology is helping? Blogs, wikis, SMART Board’s and Twitter have been used with success, but other technologies, like cell phones and other mobile devices, have been harder to use for classroom benefit.

We are firmly in the camp that believes technology can be a powerful learning tool for the classroom. We have seen the powerful benefits of educational software like SAGrader, but we do realize that technology can be a distraction if used improperly.

For instance, PowerPoint is a great tool that allows instructors to prepare and distribute lectures, however, far too often instructors use PowerPoint as a crutch and in turn improperly communicate information to students.

So remember, technology is a great way to enhance your curriculum, but it cannot replace your curriculum. Make sure that you use it in a way that assists your student’s learning rather than detracts from it.

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