Monday, February 3, 2014

From Chalkboards to Tablets

The article “From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Emergence of the K-12 Digital Learner” goes to great length to discuss the increasing technological savvy of students. In particular, by showing the increased proliferation of student-owned smartphones and other internet-capable devices, the article illustrates that students have become dramatically more comfortable with internet communications technology as that has become more mainstream. More and more, students are becoming disillusioned with the current state of education, as it seems to be stuck in the past. Students quoted in the article lament the lack of a digital element to their education, seeking the inclusion of resources such as online discussion boards and celebrating the use of technologies like Google Drive to collaborate more efficiently. It’s interesting that, in the past, many predicted that the best use of technology in education would have been in enhancing lectures or otherwise building onto one-directional education techniques. Contrary to that past opinion, the brightest future in technology as applied to learning is in the field of collaboration, giving students a greater ability to bounce ideas back and forth and learn cooperatively more effectively than ever. 
Of course, this technological revolution is not without its downsides. The increasing number of internet-savvy (or, as the article calls them, “digital native”) students means that teachers will have to constantly strive to stay one step ahead of students. While the web provides a great educational resource, it also serves as a source of infinite distraction. Schools will need to work to ensure that, even as they allow increased use of the internet and technological devices, they can keep students on task and focused, instead of giving them free reign to browse youtube, catch up with their favorite tv shows, or play games. As the article points out, students are becoming more and more interested in including online content and other technological innovations as a part of their educational experience, and it’s inevitable that the school system will move in that way. However, even with the many benefits of this innovation, it’s important to keep an eye out for weaknesses in the new technologies and to have contingencies in place for when those weak points become issues in the classroom.

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