Although innovations such as video, computers, and the Internet seem to offer schools improved methods for instructing students, these technologies all too often distract from real learning.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
The prompt claims that, while technologies have greatly facilitated teaching, they often distract students from real learning. This has a strong pessimistic outlook towards the future of technology-driven education, as it seems to indicate that distractions associated with technologies are detrimental yet unmanageable. Certainly, technologies could negatively impact learning, but I want to argue in this essay that technologies have been improving education, and there are always ways in which we can deal with the challenges they induce.
Without any doubt, technologies have brought us tremendous opportunities to improve teaching and learning. With online digital archives, teachers and students have immediate access to extensive databases with only a few clicks; doing research thus becomes much more efficient than in old days when one had to dig deep into physical libraries. Online class systems such as Canvas or Blackboard create a virtual space for each course, where the teacher and student can engage in debates, collaborate on projects, or peer-review homework even outside of physical classrooms. Not to mention that, technologies allow teachers to use visual, audio, or other types of aids in the classrooms to facilitate teaching. Also, technologies are fun! Instructors can employ the entertaining quality of technologies to fully engage students in learning. For example, teaching can take place in the form of gamification where students learn new knowledge through interactive gaming. The list of benefits could go on as technologies have brought positive changes to education beyond our imaginations.
The prompt overemphasizes distractions as a crucial side effect of introducing technologies in the process of teaching and learning. I agree that this is a legitimate concern, but I also believe that none of the distractions associated with technologies is strong enough to even out their benefits. Some people might argue that technologies have made certain distractions readily available and easily accessible to students. For example, online gaming, Youtubing, or social networking are taking away tremendous amounts of time and attention from students all to easily. However, this distraction is not a deficiency inherent in technologies. In other words, if it were not for technologies, students could be distracted by other various factors as well, because distraction is essentially triggered by an individual’s lack of concentration: one can even be distracted by daydreaming! That is why self-discipline, the ability to control oneself to fend off diversion, has always been an important part of students’ training at school.
Distraction by technologies could also refer to how technologies get in the way of teacher-students communication in the classroom. Surely, we should not dismiss this concern from many seminar instructors when they complain that laptops, tablets and other electronic devices often become a divider between the teacher and the students, which stalls proper communication. Although technologies can improve instruction in many ways, they do not necessarily need to replace the cherished faced-to-face class discussion that is traditionally considered central to the success of seminars, particularly in the field of social sciences and the humanities. In this case, instructors can minimize the negative effects by implementing specific policies on the use of technologies. For example, instructors can discourage or even ban students’ use of electronic devices during class meetings.
Last but not least, distraction can refer to how tech devices potentially distract students from independent thinking. Sone educators worry that an over-reliance on the use of technologies might prevent students from engaging in active thinking, leading to the demise of creativity and the ability to think critically. Surely. the success of classwork seems to depend on students’ search skills rather than independent thinking. However, it would be ridiculous to exaggerate this problem and believe that the use of technologies in education would hinder people’s ability to think. In fact, technologies greatly facilitate people’s thinking, and provide tools for people to solve problems. For example, starting with Aristotle, scholars have been attempting to categorize stories into different types according to their emotional development, yet because of an enormous number of books, no agreement has been reached all these years, until the invention of data mining programs. Researchers have run 1,700 stories to measure the positive and negative emotional impacts of words, and revealed that there are only six basic emotional arcs of storytelling. Projects like this take place every day at school; it shows that technologies help produce more knowledge by facilitating human thinking.
To sum up, we have to admit that education never takes place in an ideal scenario that is free of vices. While the introduction of technologies to education surely bring about certain challenges, it is important that we find ways to control their side effects and realize that technology-driven education is the future as it generates more effective ways of teaching and learning.