How far is too far?

Ben Hobbs, Writer

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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.