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.

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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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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.

Technology vs. Books (Affirmative 3)

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Reading physical books has more benefits than using technology to read which has many potential problems.

Reading books is the traditional way to learn and be entertained. Reading a book does not have the major risks that can be associated when electronics and technology is involved. The benefits of reading are greater in number and are healthier than reading constantly on the internet or some technology.

Some benefits of reading books are as follows:

  • Greater retention of information
  • Less stress when reading
  • No information overload
  • No distractions on the page that is being read
  • No risk of hacking or any other type of data breach/malware
  • Unlikely for someone to steal a textbook
  • Less strain on eyes

Books have cons from being too heavy to carry or being limited regarding information but the benefits of being relaxed, not having an information overload, no distractions on the pages and other benefits listed and not listed above.

Technology allows for anyone to have tons of information at their fingertips within a second of time and with little effort, but no one can process thousands or millions of pages of information in little time. Technology provides easy use in finding information and sharing knowledge but just the attempt of thinking of how much information is related to a certain topic is insurmountable (information overload). Not relating to information overload a current hot topic is hacking, the spread of malware/viruses and other malicious programs as these subjects only relate to electronics and technology. Technology has the risk of malfunctioning on its own or by human intent and error. Also, something to add is that technology and electronics have a battery that does not last forever and for electronics that need a plug well you still need electricity to use the technology. Using technology (tablets, computers, etc.) for a prolonged time can create health problems to the user. Some health problems include eye strain and other eye problems, neck problems, shoulder problems, carpool tunnel and other problems.

Going back to books well there are no batteries, no direct use of electricity (sometimes a light is needed to read if the environment the reader is in is too dark), no risk of a hacker or malfunctioning and there is almost no chance in the reader having information overload. Books also are less likely to cause any type of health problem to the reader.

Your choice—Books that provide many benefits—or—Technology that is easy to use but has many major risks, problems, and can impact your health negatively.

Reading books is just the better choice.