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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Electronics in Education: Where Are They?

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             Despite the fact that we are living in what many call the age of the computer, many school districts choose to abstain from technology altogether, placing their students in a dark age where the use of a cell phone or electronic device is a sin placed above all other crimes.  Among these schools stands the school in which I reside.  My school has banned nearly all forms of electronic devices including cell phones, tablet computers, and even PDAs.  While they praise this restriction as a benefit to their students, they do not realize that in reality, they are preventing their children from learning much needed skills for the workforce and are slowing down there overall learning experience.
            Within the next decade, the lines between school and home will begin to blur, meaning that as students leave their public institution, they will continue to learn at their home using different forms of technology.  This could already be occurring in a mass scale if school boards would look at the benefits of technology and allow students to carry their tablets or notebooks to their classes and store all of their information digitally.  In the present day, students can read textbooks, browse the Internet, plan their day, and type papers from the comfort of a device that weighs a twentieth of their backpack.
            In addition to changing where students can learn, technology will change how people will learn.  Kulik’s meta analysis study and multiple other studies have all pointed to the fact that with a technology oriented classroom, students tend to be much more motivated and learn at a faster rate.  According to Kulik, the average student educated with technology scored in the sixty-fourth percentile among their peers while students without technology-oriented education only scored in the fiftieth percentile.
            Technology also benefits the math skills of the students using it.  According to a study conducted by Harold Wenglinsky, technology-based education can add math scores of up to fifteen weeks to eighth graders.  This means that by using technology during their normal studies, students gained over a year of experience in comparison to those under the old-fashioned system.  If computers are boosting the skills of high school students, why would we not want to apply them in our schools?
            A hard fact to face is that most students are not ready for the work force when they graduate from high school.  Computer knowledge is one of the most desired skills by employers and is one of the easiest to teach in a public school.  Sixty percent of job seekers do not have adequate computer skills. (MSNBC)  This statistic is extremely high because many people do not have access to a computer or broadband Internet.  Schools should therefore integrate technology into their curriculum.
            There is no reason why we should abstain from using technology in education.  If we allowed students to carry tablets or other forms of computers, students would not only learn in the classroom, but also continue to learn from the comfort of their own home.  Computer skills are required for most jobs, and they could be easily taught in schools.  Technology would take the “dullness” out of school and make more people interested in learning, and that would make all the difference.
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