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Sep 3rd 2019

iClassroom? Only If You Can Handle It... ++

The best essay on the topic: Tech in the classroom: to what extent it is a reasonable implication.

Author: Cadence Bakker
United States

Technology - it's singlehandedly the most distracting, interesting, and advanced object we have in our society today. You're probably sitting at a computer reading these words as I sat here typing them on my own laptop. Your phone is probably within reach, not to mention buzzing with notifications and phone calls every couple of minutes. Technology has made it so easy for us to do anything; if we have a question, we ask Google; if we need a reminder, we tell our Alexa; if we need to know where to go, we pull out our phones and use Waze. It's quite amazing, actually. And it's grown tremendously due to the innovation of people around the world and the introduction of new products, such as smart homes, VR systems, and touchscreens in cars. Overall, technology in our day-to-day activities seems like a pretty good idea.
But what happens when you apply this to the school system?

Coming from a technology-driven school, I've seen all the pros and cons of implementing technology in the students' daily learning. The charter school that I attended provided each student with an Apple iPad. This meant no more heavy textbooks, no more paper essays, allowed access to Google for help and tutoring, and a whole lot less of paper assignments. We took tests through certain apps, we read through e-books and online textbooks, we turned in assignments into Canvas, which was the classroom platform, and we grew up using Microsoft Office programs like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. After two and a half years in that school, I saw a lot between both the students', parents', and teachers' behaviors about technology. Now, having come out of that environment into the lovely independent atmosphere of community college as a high school junior, I've witnessed and actually benefitted from most of what we were taught concerning technology responsibility. But that doesn't mean that all of it was a good idea; there were always students who broke the code, or in some instances, literally coded their way around the system.

So to finally dive into the question...

To what extent is technology a reasonable implication in the classroom?

As for the positives, we have the main one being a more independent learning experience. Students can research freely for assignments, have access to online tutoring if help isn't available in person, and even keep track of and organize their weekly tasks through apps or reminders. Since the school I was in had an advanced track, the independency of learning rooted out those who were willing to succeed and those who just wanted to skate by quite well. Where there are motivated students, there would be success in this technologically advanced education plan. Papers would be much easier to write and research, with the opportunity of real-world applications in the use of Google apps and the Microsoft Office suite. Such real-world applications could include learning to write a resume, Microsoft Office skills in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, learning to search for credible websites using online databases, and learning to research scholarships for those in high school. Online tutoring is also a high point with the technology-based curriculum; websites like Khan Academy and Quizlet provide legitimate help to students struggling, providing specific and accurate information. This seems like quite the positive outcome, right?

However, if you were to implement this into a school where it was open acceptance with low GPAs and even lower attitudes, I don't think it would go over well for these reasons. Potential negatives would have to include the distraction factor. If there's technology involved, you're going to have at least one out of three people off task. Heck, I did it in high school - the teacher would be going over how to solve proofs in Geometry, and I'd be on Buzzfeed taking my 32^nd^ personality quiz. While technology has the power to be a tool in the classroom, it will more than likely distract students from their assignments, knowingly or unknowingly. It's like a YouTube spiral - you start watching a video on how to fix your car, and three hours later there's a cat video on your screen and you have no idea how you got there! Another potential risk of technology within the classroom would be the danger of the internet. Time and time again we hear stories of young adults and teenagers getting into pornography addictions and risky situations through the use of their phone or computer. Unless there was a very, very good security system in the school IT division, then expect students to find illicit content through the internet. There needs to be control over what students' school issued tablets or laptops are able to search, download, and function.

While you have these risks you need to be aware of, ultimately technology could prove beneficial when implemented in certain school environments. Personally, I would not advance this program into public schools until a tested and secure foundation was established for students' security. My recommendation would be to have a few control schools - for instance, maybe test in a private or charter school system - and see how the learning curriculum would improve or worsen with the introduction of technology available to students. If the tests prove successful, once again continue with a secure and controlled internet security plan and consider moving into the public schools where it can be helped. So should we implement technology into the classroom? It's not simply a yes or no answer; technology has several benefits to students' learning abilities, just as it has many downfalls to their distractibility. Overall, if in a controlled environment, the "iClassroom" could be quite helpful to many students and teachers around the world.

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