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Technology takes over traditional teaching too much

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By Julianne Cauley
News Editor

As a senior at Coppell High School, dramatic shifts are becoming apparent in the learning environments I have experienced the past four years. From PCs to Macs, from traditional lectures to project based learning and from legal pads to iPads.

Freshman year: a seemingly unbearable load of six textbooks, five binders and spirals and three paperback workbooks. Six class periods of lectures, note taking, individual work and exams over each chapter or concept.

Sophomore year: an easier managed pile of four textbooks, five binders and spirals and one workbook. My six non-elective courses still contained lectures and note taking; however, an overwhelming amount of group projects were introduced and a lack of testing followed.

Junior year: finally my light load could be carried to class with me since backpacks were allowed in the classroom. This came a year too late though, because I am now allowed to have my laptop in some of my classes and only had one paperback textbook, one hardcover textbook and a lone binder and spiral. I received and submitted all of my assignments through class websites and online Blackboard competitors in four of my courses. I completed the year taking 14 tests total with a six-course schedule.

Senior year: the total technology takeover. A lone textbook has sat on my desk shelves untouched. I have four eBooks for textbooks and a complete dependency on class websites for the distribution and submission of my assignments. This week, I am taking my fourth total test after four grading periods have come and gone.

Most students would see this shift and welcome it with praise. I see this shift, and ask that the school district proceeds with caution.

It is probably a girl thing, but I used to get so excited for my back-to-school shopping. The must haves: mechanical pencils, extra .07 mm lead, Sharpie brand pens, a composition book, a cool backpack and last but not least, different color binders for each subject-all equipped with five divider tabs, loose leaf notebook paper and a college ruled Five Star spiral.

This year my shopping list was more economical. It was blank. I take a laptop to class. That is it, and with the way my classes are structured this year, anything additional would have been a waste of money.

The argument for this style of learning is simple. Students need to learn in a way that is applicable to their future. I will go ahead and agree that technology allows students to learn how to further their knowledge of technology and connect their education on a global level with solution-based learning at the core of curriculum.

However, we must consider what students lose when learning from a 21st century angle.

Almost anything is possible with technology in school nowadays. It really is true when they say “There is an app for that.” However, is there an app for social skills? Is there an app that trains students to develop study habits, to time manage, to work hard?

Technology in the classroom can be too much of a good thing.

We are blessed in Coppell ISD to have the financial resources available to obtain this technology. However, do we have the right staff or enough of the technology?

I have seen much more technology used for learning this year than in my other 12 years in CISD. My anatomy and physiology class is purely technology based. Even when we do hands on labs, the instructions are found on an iTunes U application – accessible only from apple products. My teacher, Jodie Deinhammer, has more technology experience and ability than any adult I have ever met.

However, I have found myself in classrooms where the students can outsmart and over maneuver the teacher when it comes to technology. Some teachers are confused on how to screen shot something, or save files into different formats, or even upload YouTube videos. If our school wants to progress as a 21st century institution, it needs to make sure it has a faculty fully capable of keeping up with the demand.

I am not meaning to bash some of the technologically challenged teachers. My favorite class in my high school career never utilized a piece of technology, with the exception of a PowerPoint slide to guide the lectures. Personally, I learn better in a traditional setting. When I am solely responsible for my grade, when I am tested over what I have read and listened to and when I take notes from bell to bell, that is when I succeed.

Instead of rushing to transform CHS into an institution dominated by technology, the school district needs to weigh in the idea that technology is not all glorious, and can create obstacles for students without the resources –tech wise or instructor wise – and even promote laziness as students rely too heavily on the technology.

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