- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 03 February 2016
- Written by THE OUTLOOK STAFF
As technological developments have rapidly increased over the last several years, teaching methods and classroom settings have gone through tremendous changes. Gone are the days of chalkboards and slide projectors; today, schools use iPads and touch screens. Many teachers and professors show videos, share articles, and have discussions online. While these innovations have certainly led to many improvements, are all of these advancements for the better? The Outlook weighs in.
One of the most common changes in the classroom has been the personal use of technology. Just about every student carries a smart phone with him or her to class, and many bring his or her laptop or MacBook to take notes. Though it is common to see someone typing away at their desk, The Outlook editors expressed an overwhelming preference for handwriting notes. “I usually opt to write my notes out on paper in class, and I find that most people do the same. I think that writing out notes helps with retaining what you’re learning,” one editor said. Others explained that they were just more used to writing notes out and have found them easier to study from.
Those that do bring laptops to class often face the struggle of being distracted by the internet. For this reason, some professors have completely banned the use of laptops in the classroom. “I’ve had a few professors ban laptops because they claim that they’re a distraction for the people using them and also to everyone who sits behind them, especially if the students using computers are spending time on Facebook,” one editor explained.
Every professor is different, but each will generally lay out their policies on technology in the syllabus and explain their reasoning on the first day of class. But is it fair for professors to dictate the use of personal technology? Some editors say yes, expressing that “it must be frustrating for [professors] to teach a class where no one is really listening and they are just doing their own thing online.” However, other editors disagree. “I think it should be up to the student whether or not they want to use a laptop,” one editor said. “They pay so much to go to class, I think they should be held accountable for what they do during that time.”
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to any use of technology in the classroom. Many editors cited the ability to take notes quickly and store them in one convenient place as some of the benefits of bringing a laptop. Others brought up the idea of using the internet as a resource, either to pull up additional research during a lecture or reference something that the professor posted on eCampus. Using the internet during class, however, can also have negative effects. All editors agreed that being on a laptop makes it hard to resist the temptation of things like social media and messaging.
Technology has advanced in such a manner that there is no one way to use it—there are thousands of possibilities right at our fingertips. While this has undoubtedly led to many positive advancements and has drastically increased our learning, it is not always for the better. Sometimes technology can just be a distraction that hinders our ability to focus and listen in class. As a result, some professors have instated stricter policies on the use of technology in the classroom. The Outlook was split on whether or not technology has been wholly beneficial, but the editors did agree that it’s up to the individual to use it the correct way.