‘Tech’ Your Gadgets at the Door

Particles of chalk dust in the air and textbooks covered with Book Sox’s on rows of desks have become a distant memory of the typical classroom for many college students. Chalkboards have been replaced by projectors and the need for lugging heavy textbooks across campus is no longer necessary with the endless information available on smartphones and tablets. The ubiquitous nature of technology has begun to spark much debate on the integration of these devices within the classroom.

Both educators and students are torn between the restrictions and benefits that device usage will bring to the classroom experience. Technology has impacted every facet of our everyday lives including the ways in which we gain and process knowledge.

The use of PowerPoint presentations, conducting research online about course material, efficient note taking, and the ability to connect and collaborate with fellow classmates on assignments outside of the classroom were seen as beneficial aspects of technology use within the classroom by editors.

However, some of the staff did believe that the use of a smartphone or laptop during a lecture could impede the learning process. Although, we are considered to be a generation of ‘multi-taskers’ utilizing technology in class while listening to a lecture was deemed as a distraction for several editors.

One editor claimed that if fellow classmates are using technology for non-course related activities it had a negative impact on their learning process. “If a student is on a different website during class another might look over and their attention could be taken off class and transferred onto whatever the other student is doing,” said the editor.

Some staffers believed that technology helped them take notes faster and further their discovery of the topics being discussed in class. “It (technology) allows you to learn beyond what a textbook could provide. This means movies, PowerPoints and other ways that tech helps provide a better learning experience,” said The Outlook editor-in-chief.

One editor believes that classroom facilitated technology use will ultimately prepare students for their future careers. Since our culture is immersed in the digital world and resources, it is imperative that students gain a firm grasp on these concepts and skills prior to graduation. Compiling presentations, website building, audio recording, Microsoft Word, and Adobe Creative Suite are all programs that will be utilized in future courses and careers. Exposing this technology to students in a classroom setting allows them to familiarize themselves with the software.

According to the Monmouth University website, the institution fully supports the use of technology in the process of teaching and learning. The faculty are encouraged to implement technologies into their courses.

According to some editors, many of their professor forbid the use of technology within their classroom and are in discord with the University’s efforts. Many feel that professors make up their own rules in regards to smartphone and laptop usage in their classrooms.

I have had many professors that have forbidden phone usage and even some professors that won’t let you use your laptop for note-taking or have stipulations for using your laptop during class,” said one editor. These stipulations include having to sit in the front row if you are using a laptop or tablet or requiring students to hand in their cell phones at the beginning of class. One editor claimed that a professor offered extra credit as an incentive for students to turn in their electronic devices.

“I think that not having my phone on me definitely helped in learning and staying focused because I did not have the temptation to look at it,” said one staffer. The inability to go 20 minutes without a smartphone might be a cause for concern according to one editor.

The editors are in agreement that the use of technology within a classroom setting can attribute to the engagement and disengagement of students due to its interactive and distracting nature. The incredible programs that technology offers sometimes act as a distraction and impede the learning process. However, knowledge of these tools is necessary due to our culture’s immersion in technology, therefore, the classroom is the best place to facilitate and encourage this usage.

One editor believes that technology engagement is only negative depending upon the user. “If you use it to text and check social media, you aren’t using technology to its fullest effect. If you’re using it as an aid in class to take better notes or look up confusing materials, that is what it is really for,” she said.

Monmouth might be in full support of the use of technology in learning, but many instructors opt to not embrace this digital shift in learning. In all areas of life with the constant advancements being made on technology, there continues to be debate on whether or not these advancements engage or disengage students.

One aspect of academia that should never falter was stated by one staffer: “Discussion and engagement between peers and professors should be priority over technology.”

These instruments might aid in the learning process, but The Outlook agrees that what we learn from one another by engaging in discourse is much more valuable than anything a Google or Bing search could ever convey.