Our Final Post

We’d like to thank you for tuning in with our great debate between Classic vs. Modern Learning Tools. When living in this day and age, it is not practical to completely eliminate technology, but we hope our extensive posts have helped you learn the importance of having classic learning tools remain in the classroom. From the virtues of physical tools to the potential costs associated with digital tools, there is still room for discussion on the ever-changing status of the classroom and what is required.

Throughout our blog, we have emphasized our opinion over classic learning tools vs. technology and given numerous articles, studies, research and survey information to establish positive sides of classic learning tools. Technology may be good but technology is not everything, specifically as a learning tool. We should have a balance between traditional learning and gadgets. Technology has taught us how to find information quickly and easily but we need to also be able to understand and use the information we find. Having the skills to use technology is important but knowing how to use a dictionary, spend the time to read a book, write by hand and other classic skills will help in using the information and technology as a tool not as a crutch. Technology should be used to help with education but not be a substitute for physical and mental actions.

Though we have been working for only 4 short weeks, we hope that our message has reached enough people to make a difference no matter how small. We created this blog to help people make educated decisions about choosing the right tools for school. We hope our extensive posts have helped you find your own balance between technology and tools in the classroom. We have really enjoyed writing this blog and we hope you enjoyed reading it. Just remember it’s not always beneficial to take the easy way. Sometimes, taking the easy comes way comes with consequences that outweigh the benefits. Balance is key.

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The Real Face-Book (Affirmative Post Week 4)

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The purpose of this blog is to espouse the virtues of a non-erasure of traditional teaching methods and tools. Today, I am extending that statement to cover the physical presence of the very teachers themselves. I sincerely believe that the teachers and their physical face-to-face presence in the room alongside their students is one more notch in favor of traditional methods.

Two articles, Face-to-Face Training Still the Better Choice Over Digital Lessons and The value of analogue educational tools in a digital environment, written by Salah Banna and Andrew Murray respectively, provide support for the idea that students perform better in an environment where the teacher has presence and prominence, if not outright precedence. There is “…the fundamental reality that humans are social beings” (Banna), and the educational system should reflect that with a notable role maintained for the instructor(s) of a course. How this ties into education and our blog’s stated mission is with the inevitable — if potentially fluctuating in prominence — presence of modern technology in the classroom; the presence of digital tools/methods can be a barrier to the inherent humanity that emanates from real people and which can enhance the curriculum of a course.

Murray’s article alludes to the concepts of soft and hard determinism in regards to technology and its human creators; that is to say, Murray’s article alludes to the idea that technology will gradually become “…[an] advance of technology [that] leads to a situation of inescapable necessity” (Murray). The concept of technological determinism seems inevitable, and it is perhaps exactly for that reason that it should be delayed at all costs, in the name of keeping teachers employed and present to provide tangible wisdom and interaction to their students. As Murray states toward the end of his article, “in the rush to embrace the new we must not forget the value of established educational tools and techniques” (Murray). Teachers are not “tools” per se, but they are certainly established and valuable.

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!

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Can Relying on Technology for School Work Remain Feasible in the Future?

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As you may be aware, the new iPhone X was released just a short time ago. The price of this new device starts at $999, which is $300-$400 more than previous models. This substantial price increase got me thinking about whether or not future tech will become so expensive, that very few will be able to afford it. I know that the iPhone X is a phone and not a laptop, but it’s not impossible for laptops and tablets to follow suit. In fact, at the rate laptops and tablets keep advancing, I would say that substantial increases for these devices aren’t far off. So how does this relate to the technology vs traditional study method argument?

Well, in the likely event laptop and tablet prices skyrocket, technology could become hard to obtain or even be unobtainable to those who are able to afford that stuff now. Right now laptops are available for as low as $300-$400, but if those prices were to double, that could spell trouble for a lot of students. This would mean that students who solely rely on technology for school, could be unable to afford future upgrades. If a student is unable to upgrade, they would no longer be able to use the technology they have become hopelessly reliant on. Should this scenario come to pass, those students would have to rely on technology a lot less and traditional methods a lot more. Switching study methods could have a negative impact on a student’s ability to perform in school and in professional settings. When relying on technology for everything, there are a lot of variables to consider. Unfortunately, there are just too many unknowns in the equation to call relying on technology a safe bet. It’s better to rely on the more traditional methods and use technology sparingly.

The Science behind Classic Learning vs. Modern Learning

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There are many reasons why books are still better than modern learning tools. Some researchers have found that people comprehend more when they read books than when they read something on digital devices.  The Scientific American has interesting articles, links and stories that relate to the digital screening era. Take a look at this article that discusses the science of paper versus screens.

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

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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.