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Welcome! I am Chad Galpin.
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Chad Galpin
Eng 100-14
B. Ganter

Technology in Education: Preparing for the Real World


Modern day learners need to become well acquainted with technology to succeed, but also need to learn how to use it responsibly and safely. Technology has become such a large part of our every day lives that it is important to educate people on how to effectively use it. Rachel Dretzin's documentary Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier points out how technology is running the lives of post-secondary learners by constantly having them engaged and multitasking. Links, which differ dramatically between education levels, are now being made between academic performance and the availability of technology. While technology is becoming a strong asset to education, it is also proven to have its drawbacks, and therefore requires modern learners to be educated on how to use it effectively and in a healthy manner.

Modern Students and Classroom Technology


While walking down the hallways of any post-secondary institution, its hard not to notice the immense effect of technology on the social and educational lives of both the students and the teachers. Many students are coming to college or university equipped with laptops, cell phones, tablets, and all sorts of technology to help them not only learn better, but manage their social lives in the midst of busy days of school, studying, and work. Even the schools are on board with this influx of technology in an educational environment; “over the past decade the federal government has invested heavily in numerous intiatives to assure that schools keep pace with current technology”(lawless 576). Students can now take notes in a lecture, talk to friends, organize group projects, browse the web, and so much more all simultaneously with the help of the social media, internet, cell phones, and whatever other gadgets are at their disposal. While all of this may sound good, its effect on the brains of many learners is often less than beneficial.

‍The problem of overloaded students, unable to find a reprieve from work, school and media, has become far more frequent with technological advancement.‍ Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier sheds light on this multi-tasking epidemic by showing a study where a group of students known to be “hardcore multitaskers” are taken through some excercises to show just what effect their organizational talent has on them. As shown by the study, the multi-tasking is actually hindering the students' ability to absorb information from what is going on around them because their brains cannot focus on any one thing for a long period of time. Being constantly plugged in causes the students to require more visual stimulation or else they will get bored and unable to maintain attention.

Using technology for educational purposes, however, has been very successful and is gaining popularity. The Early Childhood Encyclopedia of Education has a section devoted to the benefits found from proper use of technology in young classrooms: “Children can use [computer supported collaborative learning] tools to learn to collaborate, to problem-solve, and to work on tasks that may be otherwise too difficult to do alone” (New 800). The passage does note, though, that: “educational technology should not be seen as a stand-alone tool... [It] requires a well-planned and supported technology” (800). It is important that teaching blends technology with traditional classroom methods to achieve the best level of learning while develpoing a child or student's life skills.

Educating the Younger Generations


Schools that educate their kids on the use of technology are helping to prepare them for the future where they are likely going to end up being required to use technology on a regular basis. Technology education should be more than just typing and clicking links on the internet, it should be about teaching responsible and moderate use of computers and technology. It is easy to spend entire days on the computer and accomplish quite a lot of work and socializing, but as mentioned earlier, it isn't healthy at all. Moderation is key to many things in life, and technology use isn't an exception. Technology undoubtedly makes life easier and helps us in an infinite number of ways, but there is a point when one can obsess over technology too much. In Korea, a very proactive approach is being taken to the technology craze. Their children begin learning about technology and the internet early in elementary school and are taught how to use it safely and responsibly (Digital Nation). With how dominant technology has becoming in our everyday lives it only makes sense that kids be taught how to use it to their advantage; especially in such a country like Korea, where gaming addiction has being a serious health concern. Gaming addiction stems from Korea's 24 hour gaming cafes which allow users to pay for time to play computer games on computers equipped many of the most popular games at the time. A number of injuries and even fatalities have resulted from users forgetting to eat, drink, or sleep during these gaming marathons, which can last up to days at a single booth in the cafe. The people who spend all day connected at school or in the office are also constantly engaged with technology of some kind. Students, teachers, and people from all walks of life can fall prey to spending hours a day on cell phones, computers, and a plethora of other technology to constantly stimulate their brains while getting lots of work done in a day. This is bad not only because of the aforementioned focussing problems, but also developing social or communication issues. Eileen Saunders, a professor from Carleton University, did a class for people ages 18 to 30, she asked them what their preferred method of communication was. The answers ranked texting as the highest, especially as the people interviewed got younger, and meeting face to face much lower down the list. Obviously, technology is putting up a barrier in the younger generation's ability to find value in face to face communication. This can cause problems with making personal connections with people., and shows that moderation is key when dealing with electronic communication. Excessive Facebook, texting, and other impersonal methods of communication are bad not only for social development but also study habits. A study done by the education department of Ohio State University showed that students who get distracted by instant messaging or social media while studying under perform on tests and often have a significantly lower grade point average students who don't use social media.

Parents and Teachers


In 2011; Education Week, a website devoted to keeping teachers, parents, and others interested in education up to date with new methods and ideas in education, posted this article about how technology, from social media to mobile education, is being implemented in schools. While this fusion of education and modern technology has many benefits, the article failed to mention any negative effects of adding more technology into lives that are already swamped with cell phones, Facebook video games, and other forms of electronic mental stimulation. The education system's embrace of modern times is heartening, but now it is also an integral time for the younger generations to be made aware that the "all technology, all day" approach that has become popular may not be the best way to live life. A healthy life requires both a healthy mind and body, neither of which are easily obtained by spending all day in front of a computer. The parent's role in this is both simple and important, they should encourage kids to be physically active and to spend time in person with friends and family. Technology should be worked into the child's life, but not be the sole focus of it. It is also a matter of the example set by parents. If the parents are constantly plugged in to the world around them, then it is very likely that the children would follow suit and end up the same because they see it as normal and okay. An article on Dana.org, a website devoted to information and studies about the human brain, puts it this way: "the pull of technology is capturing kids at an ever earlier age, when they are not generally able to step back and decide what is appropriate or necessary, or how much is too much"(Patoine). When kids are too young to make these decisions then it is time for parents to step in and make their own call on where to draw the line.

There is no definitive border between technology use being totally beneficial or totally detrimental. Rather, it depends on the user and how well they can mix technology in with all the other important aspects of life. How they want their brain to grow, how they want their social life to be organized, what environment they want to work in, etc, can often times be reduced to a simple question of how much they want technology to play a role in their everyday actions. For a people to make the most of technology they should be educated at a young age on both the how-to and the pros and cons of the techno-active world of today.

Sources


Clark, Laura. "Pupils who spend time on Facebook do worse in exams, study shows." The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail UK, 13, Apr. 2009. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier. Dretzin, Rachel. PBS, 2010, Film (Online).

Education Week. "Technology in Education." Education Week. 1 sept. 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

New, Rebecca Staples, and Moncrieff Cochran. Early childhood education: an international encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2007. Print.

Patoine, Brenda. "Brain Development in a Hyper-Tech World." The Dana Foundation. np., Aug. 2008. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.

Wenglinksy, Harold. “The Link Between Teacher Classroom Practices and Student Academic Performance.” Education Policy Analysis Archives 10.12 (2002): 4 – 6. Print.