Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on August 20th, 2013

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From Chalkboards to Whiteboards to PowerPoints, What's Next?

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Last week, Mashable.com/ published an article about the new Google Play Books app for iOS as part of the iTextbooks feature for iPhone and iPad. This seems to be the path education is headed. The increasing role of technology in the classroom is hard not to notice (unless you haven't been in a classroom in some while, but even so there are lectures available on youtube or other websites, a nod to this point) with online blackboards, online classes, mobile devices, file sharing, SMART and Mimio boards present in most college institutions. With this new trend we could be seeing even more technology in the classroom, except this time brought in by the students.

In a quote taken from the article, "Through Google Play Books, U.S. customers can now buy or rent textbooks from Google's partner publishers. Most titles are available for rent for a six-month period and for prices that are, of course, considerably lower than those for their print editions." Users can highlight and take notes within the digital version of the text, theoretically eliminating the need for an actual copy of the book or a separate paper notebook if the student is comfortable enough with the device's note-taking capabilities.

The increased use of technology in education is making things faster, easier, and cheaper for students across the world. What are classrooms going to look like in five years? Thirty years? The capabilities of technology are expanding at a rapid rate. The landscape of education could totally change for the next generation of high school and college graduates.

Scholastic published an article that states, "Our students don't just want mobile learning, they need it." With children growing up among the presence of smart phones, tablets, etc., they are used to this near-constant involvement with technology and some can be considered to be lost or even anxious without it. But existing studies provided in the article show that the incorporation of technology in the classroom has aided performance. Technology in the classroom is a great tool for learning and should be utilized, as long as it is being maintained and utilized for the correct endeavors.

We have become used to computers in the workplace and in the classroom or lecture hall. But with that also comes added distraction. Students surfing the web or talking on facebook while physically present in lecture, texting their friends (possibly for test answers)... Some of the blame falls on teachers for lack of awareness, discipline, or in some cases care. But if students are taking notes on their computer or the course is technologically driven, the student needs their computer for academic purposes. The discipline then falls on the shoulders of the student using the technology to not open a web browser instead of listening about satire in Huckleberry Finn. If students can be responsible enough to not let the temptations of having internet and social media always present interfere with their attention to schoolwork, technology in the classroom provides a great learning edge for those who are able to afford it.

Another possible worry is the alienation of poorer students or poorer schools. If a student or a school can't afford the technology being widely embraced across the country and world, what are their prospects for getting a job? For social/economic mobility? These are questions that need to be in the thoughts of our educators as they utilize the obvious positive benefits to the increasing role of technology in the classroom.

I am not saying I have the magical answers for the problems I have addressed, merely pointing out their existence. I am nowhere near educated enough or in the correct areas to make hypotheses on how these things can be avoided. I also do not want to seem biased. Technology and its use have led to wonderful things for our society. It is just something to talk about. I think the increasing presence of technology in our society is a fascinating subject that I love to have conversations with others about.

So what do you think? Will the pen and paper ever disappear completely, or will there always be a place for it in academia? Let us know what you think in the comments!