Is It Worth It? (Refutation 4)

As the debate continues, opposing sides are pushing for either all classrooms functioning with tablets or sticking to the traditional method with textbooks. This argument has even been debated by political figures. Christine Quinn, New York City Council speaker, said “We currently spend more than a hundred million dollars a year on textbooks. That’s enough money to buy tablets for every student in New York City public schools and cover staff costs to make sure these online texts are meeting rigorous standards.” This point was brought up by a very well proven article by Lauren Moffett that using tablets saves more money than textbooks. She goes into depth that using tablets will replace not only textbooks but pencils and notebooks too. A point has been made that tablets can hold hundreds of textbooks on one device. A tablet also has room for homework, quizzes, and other files which eliminates any need for physical storage of books and classroom materials. But there are extreme downsides to getting rid of everything and only having a simple device. Let’s dig deeper.

Not only is using a tablet in class extremely distracting, but it also may be a factor on why this generation is developing a shorter attention span. According to 87% of teachers (for grades K-12), believe that “today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” Is it really a good idea to contribute to that? By only having tablets, this creates a gateway of distractions. Imagine an entire school day with JUST a tablet. That would be incredibly boring.

Another point – it is very likely that your tablet (or any electronic device) will freeze at some point in the school day as well. By replacing textbooks with tablets, your removing the only option you have when your device crashes. This would be a very bad situation for students at a younger age.

Older students have a different situation to avoid. Theft. Most college students RELY on technology. All of their information is stored on their devices. PDF of textbooks, assignments, PowerPoint notes, the list goes on. Basically all of your eggs are in one basket. And if something happens to that device, you lose everything. It is not a good idea to put so much trust in technology and completely overlook the traditional method of note taking. At any point if you aren’t careful, your device could get stolen. The Associated Press did an article on the huge epidemic of theft with devices. In San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, robberies related to internet-enabled handheld devices have accounted for 50, 40, and 25 percent of all robberies in 2012 (for a video on more statistics click here for a ABC news segment). In that same year, the stolen and lost devices have cost Americans more than $30 billion. Even if Quinn makes a point about saving money by getting rid of textbooks, it’s clear that tablet is still going to cost you in the long run.

So is it all worth it? I don’t think it’s the worth the risk, money and possible contribution to the youth’s decline in attention span. What are your thoughts? Make the right decision and stick to traditional learning methods!



Putting the Cart Before the Horse (Refutation, Week #3)

Cart and Horse

As the debate rages on over the caliber of the status of technology in the classroom –if there should be any status granted at all — a man by the name of Danny Mareco took it upon himself to make not just a case, but a full fledged declaration for the heavy presence of modern digital learning tools in the classroom. On the site SecurEdge, Mr. Mareco made his aptly named declaration, titled “10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom”.

In his article, Mr. Mareco runs through ten major points explaining his reasons that there should be more integration of technology in modern classrooms. The points are as follows:

  1. Preparation for future careers for students
  2. The expansion of the variety of learning styles
  3. An increase in student collaboration
  4. “Digital citizenship skills” – Noted by Mr. Mareco as responsible use of mobile devices
  5. Consistency with growing influence of technology in students’ early non-school lives
  6. Potential of Virtual reality to be integrated into the classroom down the line
  7. Easier access to up-to-date info
  8. Less of the “traditional passive learning model” in which teachers only relay information to their students
  9. The ownership of a school device can teach responsibility
  10. “It’s a transformative experience”, i.e.: new curricula such as coding and the aforementioned potential for new kinds of collaboration, among other things mildly alluded to in the article

While I believe that the article raises several good points about the positive potential for greater integration of new technology in modern classrooms, I believe Mr. Mareco is putting the cart before the horse in some respects. Towards the start of the article, Mr. Mareco claims that “schools are on the fence about the use of certain mobile devices”, and he is correct. I believe that the schools have every right to remain on the fence given much of this technology is unproven in numerous educational circuits. For one thing, the potential for virtual reality usage is likely unproven potential as of this writing.

And then there is the matter of using digital tools with the ability “… to access the most up-to-date information quicker and easier than ever before”. This may be a serious problem in era of widespread fake news diluting the well so to speak.

There are only minimal safeguards insurance from the technology becoming outdated. As touched upon in prior refutations, technology is not only expensive, but easily susceptible to obsolescence. It is best to minimize reliance on tools that will be rendered outmoded by successors as much as possible.

It is also, if not worrying, then at least important to note that this article, posted on SecureEdge, finishes with an endorsement of its parent site’s Wi-Fi services for schools. It would be best to advise caution pertaining to the article’s intentions, as the article’s host site/creator itself could directly financially benefit from the introduction of more technology into classrooms, whether or not it is wise or even safe to have it. It is cliché to say, but older learning tools have stood the test of time and are not at the mercy of an unreliable Wi-Fi connection, or of service companies who are gradually gaining more and more power over the consumer.

The price to pay for new technology is running the risk of becoming a guinea pig for electronics manufacturers and the internet companies that power said manufacturers’ devices. I believe that, as it stands, there are too many drawbacks to letting in further technological advances.

New Learning Tools are Awesome! But Expensive (Refutation 2)

Post 2

New learning gadgets are awesome. These leaning tools make learning more interesting and engaging. It is a completely different feeling than someone reading a traditional book. A physical book can be heavy and boring. Even the font of the text can be boring.

New learning tools remove barriers for reading and learning. When students want a book, they can download it onto their laptop, tablet or Kindle. So, they can do it anytime, and anywhere. Carrying a book is no longer a problem.  Anyone can carry hundreds or thousands of books with just one device. Another reason these new gadgets are priceless is because students can minimize and maximize their reading, and if they don’t like the font style, they can change it. For taking notes, they can just copy and paste from their digital version and place it on to a Word Document.

According to researchers at Sanford Graduate School of Education by Professor Linda Darling-Hammond and Shelley Goldman, they have discovered about new findings about learning tools. They have done more than 70 studies to identify successful use of technology vs. students at risk of dropping out schools. These research results have proved students who use these new technology gadgets in their classrooms, have made significant and positive differences in learning outcomes of students at risk of failing courses and dropping out schools. They also see an enjoyment of students toward the studies.

Reserch Data

Let’s look at the costs now. According to Amazon, a Kindle Fire is $79.99. You have to also think about the costs of downloading books onto your new tablet. Plus a decorative case. You’re now paying somewhere between $100-$130. Also think about getting a new charger if yours breaks. This applies to MacBooks as well. Nowadays these cool gadgets come with bigger expenses. Decorative keyboard sleeves, laptop cases, etc. More often than not, the expenses aren’t worth it, because when the next new thing comes out, you’re going to want to buy it (and technology has a tendency to become obsolete in its own right).

This does not even get into the personal and interpersonal drawbacks of locking your learning material to a single digital space. Unlike digital media, physical material can be purchased and easily resold, or lent out to friends without leaving students at the mercy of an internet world that is neither completely ubiquitous/available nor hack-proof.

Instead of keeping your traditional method the notebook – that is never changing and largely reliable – you are opting for a laptop or similar device that will most likely give you problems in the future. These problems can lead to more money being taken out of your pocket to get it fixed.

Tablets vs. Textbooks (Refutation 1)

A few years ago, The New York Times did a story that covered school districts that decided to replace all of their physical textbooks with iPads loaded with digital versions of those books. It’s interesting that the arguments for the conversion from physical media to digital media (with the exception of 2) are pretty weak. The biggest reason listed for the conversion, is that it allows students and teachers to remain in contact after school and it allows students to submit assignments from home.

Why do grade school students need that kind of convenience? The answer is they don’t. Grade school students don’t need to FaceTime with their teachers after hours, they can wait until school the next day. It’s been the method for years in the past. Why make the change now? Same thing applies to assignment submissions, they cant wait until class starts. These schools are trying to go all digital to make things easier on them. But will they be the ones paying for it? Not everyone has smart phones. This could create a problem financially for everyone needing to buy a new device to fit the school standards. Instead a child’s school supply list saying “5 wide ruled notebooks” it says “16GB Apple iPad”. That can be very pricey.

They did however list 2 good reasons for the conversion. It was said that by going all digital, classes could be more interesting by using iPads as an interactive tool. On the flip side however, they can prove to be distracting and no one would pay attention. The best reason for the very expensive conversion is that students would not have to carry heavy books around. This can be very harmful for students. Especially at a young age. However, I think a good balance between tech and traditional methods are best. Check out the article here.