Numerous schools across the country are investing massive sums of money in technology in order to improve learning. While a few institutions have benefited from these programs, research shows that several have not. Technology use in classes also impedes other programs and reduces learning outcomes.
In certain scenarios, technology use in the classroom is counterproductive. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that students who spent too much of their time on technological tools, such as computers, performed worse than those who did not. Although school administrators mean well by introducing technologies in their institutions, these tools can cause adverse distractions in the student body.
In fact, such distractions should provide enough evidence for school administrators to remove them from their institution. When computers are present in a classroom, it causes teachers to compete with them. Unlike other learning tools (textbooks, whiteboards etc) that are exclusively used for learning purposes, computers have so many non-academic uses. Children are bound to abuse these advantages and thus perform poorly.
Some schools provide their students with computer games, tutorials and simulations in order to boost their writing skills. Kulik (34) found that their writing skills got worse after participating in computer enrichment program; their performance decreased by -0.14.
Richtel (A1) explains that technology can be detrimental to student’s learning owing to its effect on the financial costs of a school. He explains that many schools are blindly investing in technology without asking for proof that it works. Since technology requires a lot of revenues, these schools have had to cut back on their expenditures in other traditional classes such as physical education, music or art.
As much as technological skills are important in children’s adult lives, their need to develop skills in physical education or art is just as important too. It is especially relevant to those children with talents in such areas. Technology use in classrooms is placing unnecessary financial pressure on schools with smaller budgets thus eating up on other vital knowledge areas.
Sometimes technology use in classrooms does not affect children’s performance either negatively or positively. One should note that neutral effects on learning are just as bad as negative effects because schools are not realizing their returns on investment. It is pointless to spend massive amounts of revenue on a tool that causes no improvement.
Kulik (13) investigated the effect on instructional technology in secondary and elementary schools and found no significant changes. His analysis was based on secondary literature from over 15 national studies.
The author found that reading scores among children who received their instructions through technology improved by very small quantities. Furthermore, because the results were divergent among various researches, then it is not possible to make a firm conclusion on the subject.
The results of technology enhanced learning among special groups are not that promising, as well. Muir Herzig (120) did a study of the effect of technology on children who are at risk. She defined at-risk children as those whose education might be endangered owing to their health, social, family or economic environments.
Usually, such children will report high rates of absenteeism and low grades. Some schools with high proportions of at-risk students have introduced technology as a method of coping with these challenges, but have found minimal results. The researcher cited teacher-related deficiencies and administrational inadequacies as some of the reasons behind the poor results.
All these findings indicate that no conclusive proof exists to support the use of technology. The earliest proponents of technology use in the classroom came from the Clinton administration in 1995. They believed that technology would increase the US’s competiveness in the global arena.
However, the group stressed that massive adoption should only commence when the education system has tangible proof that the technologies work. This proof should come from nation-wide trials that have lasted for years on end.
However, because technology applications are so different and they keep changing rapidly, then it is difficult to carry out such a trial. In essence, users of technology may have to embrace the technology without certainty about the potential effects (Richtel A1). It is simply pointless to make such a large investment without having sufficient evidence that the approach works.
The inherent nature of technology has a large role to play in determining these negative outcomes. Technologies keep changing so quickly; therefore, training programs must become a routine activity in the school environment, yet this is not always tenable. Furthermore, these changes in technology also correspond to changes in the students’ learning styles.
Teachers must merge these new learning styles to their teaching approach, yet that is not always possible. Technology use requires coordinators that can facilitate these transitions and teachers who are willing to make changes constantly; this may be a difficult ask for most instructors.
Additionally, the costs of changing these pieces of technology may also impede some schools. It is always necessary to upgrade hardware and software in the school environment (Muir Herzig 122). However, funding issues may minimize these upgrades thus making it difficult for teachers to merge new software with the old computers that they have.
A number of proponents believe that schools should give technology a second thought because it prepares students for the outside world. They claim that it teaches them the necessary skills to compete in the corporate arena. However, these proponents are assuming that the goal of technology is only long term. If a teacher’s goal is to improve performance today, then he or she would not gain from the use of technology.
Furthermore, when teachers do not give students short term goals to aspire to, then their performance starts to dwindle. It is quite difficult to erasure higher order thinking or problem solving skills without the use of tests, yet this is what proponents of technology use are advocating for in their institutions.
Even if one assumes that technology leads to development of certain learning skills, one must realize that it also destroys others. Language skills and interpersonal skills are just as important as problem-solving skills, especially among young children.
However, the introduction of technology in classes reduces the amount of time that students have to interact with one another and thus develop the necessary team-working or language skills needed to survive in the workplace too.
Some proponents argue that research has shown some positive improvements; even though these findings are small, they still represent a positive correlation. However, analysts have realized that sometimes the positive results may come from external factors such as parental involvement. When schools decide to incorporate some of these technologies in teaching, they often expect parents to make contributions to the purchases.
As a result, most parents will become keen on their children’s performance, which will make their results improve. Additionally, one will find that schools with high levels of investment in technology often train their teachers very frequently. Increases in test scores may actually be brought on by the improved teaching training rather than the technologies.
Baylor and Ritchie (12) found that for technology to work well in the classroom, it must be complemented by a series of other activities. Teachers need to have a plan for the technology, which must consist of the vision and philosophy that will determine the use of that technology. One must also name all the stakeholders involved as well as the configuration, time plan and funding components of the technology.
Furthermore, teachers require technology role models from their administrations, such as school principles, in order to provide leadership. Curriculum alignment is also another vital contributor to the success of technology. Teachers need to be exposed to the technology for a long period of time before they can claim to have mastered it.
Educators also need to make decisions on how best to use the technologies once they have been introduced to that setting (Evans-Andris 27). All these prerequisites may present serious problems in realization of tangible results. First, educators may find it difficult to estimate aspects of the technology plan such as funding or configuration.
It is difficult to find technology models in schools, and curriculum alignment is always problematic; many teachers cannot maintain the same pace as the changes in technology. Lastly, differentials exist on the best way to utilize technology.
Research on the effect of technology in classrooms is inconclusive as some studies show only slight improvements while most reveal no change or reduced performance. It would not make sense to invest in a program that has not been validated. Furthermore, most positive results emanate from teacher training and parental support rather than the actual technological tool.
Baylor, Amy & Donn Ritchie. “What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student leanring technology-using classrooms?” Computers and Education. 4(2002): 1-20. Web.
Evans-Andris, Micheal. “An examination of computing styles among teachers in elementary schools.” Educational Technology Research and Development, 4.2(1995): 15-30. Print.
Kulik, James. Effects of using instructional technology in elementary and secondary schools: What controlled evaluation studies say. SRI International no. P10446. Arlington, VA, 2003
Muir-Herzig, Rozalind. “Technology and its impact in the classroom.” Computers and Education 42(2004): 111-131. Web.
Richtel, Matt.”In classroom of future, stagnant scores.” New York Times, 4 September 2011: A1. Print.