Technology in the Classroom: Is It Really Effective and Necessary?

Are schools enhancing their students’ education by using technology as a teaching aid or has it become a distraction in the classroom? The debate over the effectiveness and appropriateness of technology in the classroom remains a hot subject for many educators. I’ve heard from teachers who don’t believe technology is vastly more effective than traditional tools, while others say it’s made a huge impact on learning in the classroom. 

Many schools are introducing technology to their youngest students. For example, an Indiana school district recently provided five of its 21 kindergarten classes with Apple iPads. School officials said that a recent study of those students found that 73 percent met or exceeded some reading standards after they were exposed to the iPad. Similarly, a school in Maine will be outfitting 300 kindergartners to get iPad2 touchpad tablets.

But, not everyone is on board with the use of technology as an educational tool and some educators think technology is distracting to students. For example, the Waldorf school model believes technology gets in the way of creativity and saps attention spans, according to this article in the Ottawa Citizen. It also makes it too easy for students to find the right answer, says one teacher.

“It takes two or three clicks sometimes and I’m given an answer,” he says. “Don’t people make bigger gains when they have to, out of their own will, their own fortitude, their own creativity, come to the solution themselves?”

Because of this, Waldorf schools don’t introduce computers into the classroom until students are 14. Will these students be wildly behind in technological prowess when kindergarteners around the country are mastering the iPad? Well, probably not. Most Waldorf students have computers at home, so they are exposed there. But the school remains steadfast in its opposition to using technology too early in a student’s education.
What has been your experience in the classroom? Are your students learning significantly better by using computers and other technological aids? In the end, are we enhancing how our children learn or just distracting and confusing them?

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