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New technology brings attention to possible online schooling

New technology brings attention to possible online schooling

March 2, 2019

How far is too far?

As society progresses and technology is developed, it seems like more and more of this new technology has to be integrated into schools across the United States and the rest of the world. Classrooms around BVNW have iPad carts, desktop computers, and now one-to-one MacBooks given to every student in the Blue Valley School District from now on. New technology often makes school work easier, more convenient, and helps the quality of life that is experienced at school, but technology integration is stripping away the purpose of school in the first place.

Through smartboards, iPads, and now the One-to-One MacBook initiative, technology has become a core part of most of our schooling experiences. It has helped, but how far is too far? When schools begin to experiment with the curriculum such as video lectures and online quizzes and tests, it doesn’t bode well for the future of education.

In my experience, and from what I have gathered, when a class relies on its learning solely through video lectures, students struggle more in grasping the subjects. Video lectures can in fact be useful, such as when a substitute is there and the teacher is unable to be present to teach the subject, however when the teacher teaches through video lectures only, it doesn’t seem to provide any benefit more than teaching in class. When material is taught through spoken word it sticks with the student, allowing them to retain the knowledge. Often times questions students may have, a computer can’t answer. Being physically present adds ease in communication that is revoked when the physical aspect is taken away.

Even online courses are becoming more and more prominent in today’s education system. Online classes seem like great options to everyone involved, the district saves some money by foregoing the cost of a teacher’s salary, and the student can take a course on their own time. As good as it seems, it doesn’t always turn out great. A study done by the Brookings Institute, a research group founded in Washington D.C. found that students enrolled online in the same course as a student in a physical classroom performed significantly worse, and showed higher signs of dropping out in the future. That’s not to say student’s can’t do well in online courses, they can, it just isn’t as likely or even as easy.

With the Blue Valley School District initiating the one to one Macbook program, school is becoming more and more focused on the internet. Quizzes, tests, notes and homework are all starting to be on these laptops. We are seeing the beginning of a movement in which education is based solely online. The major benefit to this is that with school being completely online, nothing is missed during a snow day or day off, it can all be completed from the comfort of the home. This sounds great, but if all the schoolwork for a day can be completed in your house, it begs one big question. What’s the point of spending all day at school for people who would rather be at home?

School serves many purposes in the lives of students everywhere, it first serves to educate, to prepare students for life, but another major purpose of school is to bring people together face to face. When school is completely computer based, you miss out on human interactions that are crucial to life. Regardless of orientation, introvert or extrovert, a study by the Journal of Health and Social Behavior showed that people who create strong relationships have an increased lifespan and longevity and have fewer health problems. A lot of people, without school, wouldn’t have a majority of relationships that they have today, and to put school on the shoulders of computers takes away that opportunity for relationships without putting in much. College applications as well as job applications ask for recommendations, and teachers can be an amazing resource for this. The better you get to know your teachers, you have a higher chance to build strong relationships that could last a lifetime. If the teacher-student relationship is foregone, a lot is lost.

Yes, technology is incredibly advanced and is a large part of modern education, but it can only go so far before it becomes a hindrance rather than a help.This movement may seem incredible and instantly gratifying, but in the long term scheme of things it may just be stripping away the foundation of school as we know it.

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    Time to change

    With the recent introduction of MacBooks into the daily lives of students, the Blue Valley School District is trending toward a more online approach to learning, as students are required to do activities on their school-issued MacBooks within the classroom. Following this momentous move for the district, it begs the question: Why doesn’t society totally forgo the outdated in-person schooling experience for a more efficient and cost-effective online schooling approach?  

    One of the major benefits for a solely online based education is, unless there is a total shutdown of the internet, school would never be canceled nor would students miss anything if they stayed home sick. Recently, with the barrage of snow days students have been faced with, Blue Valley schools haven’t had a full week of school since the first week back from winter break. This has lead to the questioning of whether school would continue into June to make up for the missed days of school (The Blue Valley School District recently came up with a plan to avoid this). Despite the annual worry that missing school days causes over whether students can attain enough academic hours to complete the school year, missing school days can be detrimental in other ways. Generally, tests and projects are not subject to date changes despite the fact that one cannot physically come to school. Enter online schooling. No more will students be liable for a test they were unable to take or a presentation they were unable to present, for they can do it from the comfort of their own home or local library. In effect, online schooling would remake the education process into an efficient, convenient task, as it could be performed from anywhere at anytime.

    Time after time, we as a society hear how students learn better at different paces and with different methods than others, but nothing has truly been done to combat this. The fact of the matter is, traditional schooling methods can’t achieve an equilibrium where all students’ educational needs can be met. Certain restrictions such as man power and limited time in each class bar in-person schooling from covering all bases with students. These same restrictions don’t face online schooling. Each class and subject can be tailor made for each student. If there’s one student who learns better visually and has a social studies class, why not create a virtual reenactment of a certain battle they were being lectured on. Or if there’s one student who is an auditory learner and perform well under traditional schooling methods, why not provide them with the typical lecture environment that they excel under. Also, each class/subject time can be altered to meet the necessary time increment the student requires to fully understand his/her material. Although not limitless, online schooling opens the door to a variety of new, innovative schooling methods which can be purposed to meet all educational needs for every level of student.

    The final fact of the matter is online schooling provides a major upside in regards to it’s cost-effectiveness. No more will the price of keeping the lights on, the air moving, school-provided transportation running or other necessities required to run a school stretch the tax dollars thin. Rather, the funds could repurposed into attaining and maintaining a domain for the online school, which would result in a surplus of tax dollars left over, possibly leading to tax cuts for citizens statewide. Now everyone asks what will happen to teachers if online schooling is the future, well as mentioned earlier, online schooling has the unique ability to be tailor made to suit each students educational needs and just one person can not do this alone. With this in mind, teachers, who already create daily lesson plans, can just repurpose their skills in order to make lesson plans for students of a specific need. In addition, several states have faced teacher strikes demanding the pay they were promised or greater pay. Despite being cash-strapped, these states can easily solve their inability to pay their teachers by transitioning into an online school system, freeing up tax dollars as online schooling is cheaper than traditional schooling.

    Although many might see online schooling as the purging of the intrapersonal feel traditional schooling provides, online schooling bears necessary upgrades in regards to cost, tailor made student learning and prevention of missing school to pass up. Many times before society has yielded to innovation and technology in order to progress, why stop striving to improve on the outdated methods of the past now?

     

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