Education is a beautiful yet torturous concept which has remained relatively unchanged throughout history: students go to their classes, are taught to regurgitate information by their teachers, are instructed to do some homework, to complete a few exams, and then graduate as functioning members of society. If one thing has changed in this stream of repetition, it’s been the use of technology in the classroom. Despite the prolonged existence of those weird light projectors that sit on the desk and block your view, barely-functioning computers from the 90’s and paper and pen exams, digitalisation and therefore modernisation has occurred. It’s been a pretty revolutionary past decade when it comes to technology. We’ve created 3D printers, self-driving cars, advanced robots, and so much more.
I remember at my primary school, it was an exciting day to show up and see one of those electronic whiteboards with the weird pens there. It didn’t turn out to be very useful, but that was the first real piece of technology that made my 8-year old self think ‘Wow, we’re advancing into the future.’ Now, I think the school provides Ipads for the students. High school began with the classic 1B5 books, perfect for colouring in those title pages so crucial in Year 7. It wasn’t really until I started NCEA when the technology use initiated and amplified. From Level 1 onwards, having access to a computer/phone has been relatively necessary – I use a laptop in most of my daily classes. Clearly, a lot has changed in terms of technology. But has its implementation in the school system done us any good?
As young people, we understand the benefits of technology more than most, whether it’s in or out of school. Admittedly, it controls us more than we control it, but technology makes things so much easier. For example, think of writing an essay. When you consider doing it on paper, there’s illegibility, spelling mistakes, the painful task of crossing out, rewriting, and the time required to physically pen it to worry about. It’s inconvenient. Writing it up on a computer is worlds away – typing is obviously quicker, your letters are guaranteed to be clear, and when it comes to editing, it’s simple, instead of messy. There’s also no paper waste.
Technology allows you to, instead of carrying a billion refill pads or exercise books, encapsulate your work in one compact device. I appreciate having access to a one because I can’t imagine doing internals on paper. Some will scorn at this, saying that the true art of education has been lost, that students have it so much easier these days, that most of us have forgotten how to handwrite. We do have it easier, because we have technology to assist us and enhance our learning experiences. Since everything is online these days, we have access to a huge amount of information to help us. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of that?
With all the benefits technology brings us, negatives have arisen, naturally. Most are aware of the distracting properties of any device. How many times per lesson are students told to get off their phone in your classes? Undoubtedly a disruption, there’s a fine line between technology benefiting us, and inhibiting us from being productive. It makes it so easy to procrastinate, and can eat up so much time. Let’s not forget that not all students have access to a laptop/phone, or even Wifi at home. Not every school can provide functioning computers for their students, yet it’s becoming more of an expectation than a suggestion to use this technology to submit work online. Older generations will usually make note of the ‘brain-numbing’ qualities of technology, and they are somewhat valid.
We can’t ignore all the research that proves how it negatively impacts mental health, strains your eyes, and how addictive it can be. However, when used in moderation for school, for positive learning reinforcement, the benefits of technology outweigh any risks. You’ll likely be in front of a computer all day at work, so why not use one at school?
Since our technology is rapidly updating and advancing, it’s fascinating to contemplate what school will be like in a few hundred years. Will we still have teachers? Will students finally be allowed to type up their exams? Will we even need education, or will information be implanted into our heads via chip? One thing is for sure – technology will continue to progress and find ways to further merge into our education system. Provided we don’t lose the core values school provides, such as perseverance, teamwork, self-motivation, and creativity, I think we will all be fine.
Sarah is a Year 13 student who loves writing and the subject of English. She intends on one day becoming an Editor or a Technical Writer.