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Technology is without any doubt evolving at an incredibly high pace. Did it improve lives? Definitely yes: just think about a world without smartphones. But what about education? Is paper going to be replaced by technology?
This question is a bit more intriguing. Since the beginning of the 2010s, IWBs started to appear in middle and high schools. It was a big surprise for everyone, for students but also teachers that had to learn to use the new “interactive” devices. Some students nowadays state that they really felt like they were living in the future: the fact of being able to draw and delete just using electronic pens and rubbers was really astonishing. But in the very recent years, teachers started to adopt very “unorthodox” methods. News of high school and university professors using video games and films to teach something started to flourish almost in every industrialized country.
Historical films and video games started to be employed to teach history and historical events. Documentaries began to be shown to better learn about biology and animal life. The fact of actually seeing that particular type of wildlife is easier to understand and catchier to remember rather than trying to imagine it through a words-made description. Also, Einstein’s relativity is better explained with pictures instead of just reading it on a book.
What about the wider and wider adoption of tablets in schools? Some people believe it to be not so good, especially to kids. It is obviously connected to some stereotypes related to technology: tablets, smartphones, and TVs are making our kids dumber. Is it true? Well, although some studies proved that a consistent abuse of technological devices actually causes kids to be less creative, it is also true that a controlled and time-limited consume of those can do nothing but good to people. Most of what we know about the world is shown through media.
There are some theories considering the reality to be just a reflection of what we see in mass media. So, technological devices’ consume should be accompanied by some time spent outside doing “traditional” activities, one of which is reading a good old book. Although every parent considers technology to be dangerous, they shouldn’t forget one thing: people of the late 90s / early 2000s effectively grew up with a rising technological development and were the first ones to be “born with technology”. They didn’t report to have any particular disturb, except of course for a few cases. Let’s go back to the implicit question: can technology use in school be harmful to kids and teenagers?
The answer is no, but of course, there must be strict control on the ways those technologies are used, especially with younger kids. Everyone agrees on the fact that, if we leave a tablet in the hands of a boy or a girl without any form of restriction, he or she would use it in complete opposition to the way it should be used in school or class. The same with the students. Not everyone uses gadgets to write Pro-Papers, for example. Teachers should always be careful and ready to intervene in case they notice something’s wrong. Plus, there are many ways to block accessibility to a particular category of websites. But let’s talk now about the positive features of technology being employed in schools.
First of all, it is a wonderful device to effectively improve the way in which kids with learning disorders, such as Asperger’s or autism, can be as proficient as their classmates. Many autistic kids have demonstrated to have better performances through the usage of technology. There was a case which testified that an autistic kid could finally find a way to express himself through Minecraft, the well-known video game in which the player has an endless combination of blocks and materials to build whatever he wants. Plus, as people with dysgraphia find writing to be less difficult with the support of a keyboard or a tablet, so people with dyslexia find reading to be easier because they can change the format or simply zoom in letters. Furthermore, if someone just hurt his hand and is unable to write, he can use a tablet or a keyboard to compensate for this situation. Also, technology in school should be used to reduce the enormous quantity of paper that is being used every year.
All the paper employed and wasted has a great impact on the atmosphere: to create paper, you need trees. Trees notoriously consume CO2 and release oxygen. So why don’t we use tablets instead? They need some materials to be created, sure, but once they’re created they can store and save a greater and greater amount of data. Rainforests would be better preserved and there wouldn’t be so much wasted paper. This is also an ethical solution: kids would be encouraged to save paper because they simply would not need it! Of course, paper will never be completely replaced, but nowadays it is excessively used, especially considering the fact that the adoption of technology actually decreased the amount used in schools. Just think about electronic registers, now employed in almost every school.
In summary, technology and education are effectively evolving together. This is getting more and more evident every day. The adoption of tablets and IWBs is the clearest evidence of this process. But there is still some room for improvement. “Technology over paper” should be encouraged to save our planet Earth and to teach kids how to respect it. Also, technology gives people opportunities that are not given by the nature of the paper itself, like interactivity.
This is the future, this is the way through which we can reduce distances between different people and we can give them new ways to express themselves. Being able to communicate has never been so easy. Technologies are great, and so what is possible to do with them. People should just be careful about how they use those!