Technology in classrooms has changed significantly in recent years. Teachers have gone from standard textbooks to ebooks, chalkboards to smartboards, and paper quizzes to response systems. There are many advantages and disadvantages to using technology in the classroom. Each new piece of technology provides new ways of learning as well as unique challenges.
Physical copies of textbooks provide students with a tangible book which helps some students learn better than an ebook. It is easy to annotate a physical copy and to find specific locations via page numbers. But, having many standard textbooks can make a student’s backpack extremely heavy, eventually leading to back problems. If a student needs to find a specific quote but has no idea where in the book it could be, hours could be lost searching each and every page in the book. Small text can be difficult to read and the only thing students can do is use special reading glasses to remedy the problem.
Ebooks get rid of a lot of the problems that physical books have. Students can store hundreds of textbooks on their devices that fit in their pockets. Searching for a specific quote is easy with a search function that is found with most ebook files. Annotating can be slightly more difficult depending on the size of text or screen students are working on, but the notes are easier to find later on. Text size is usually a non-issue as students can customize the text size to fit their needs. This solves one problem but creates another problem with keeping track of actual page numbers. Also, having ebooks can be difficult for some students to learn from as fun apps are usually only two finger taps away.
Chalkboards and whiteboards have been used for many years in education. They provide a great tool for teachers to show what they are teaching their students, but notes on these boards are lost forever the moment they are erased. There is also a need to constantly replenish writing and erasing tools for the boards which can be expensive over time.
Projectors showing slide shows started to eliminate the problems with chalkboards and whiteboards, but smartboards are a newer technology that eliminates lost notes and a need for replacing writing utensils. Notes written on interactive boards can be stored on connected computers. Smartboards also have a special pen that will not damage the surface of the board and uses no ink, so it doesn’t need to be replaced regularly. Teachers can write extra notes on the slides that they show and can even use different colors to organize their notes better. Students can then take notes as needed and return to slides later to gather notes that they missed. But, smartboards are not without their own issues. The boards have a smaller workspace and tend to require a bit of training to use properly.
Paper quizzes are an easy way to have students take tests and for teachers to collect and grade at a later date. Students have to wait for results, but it’s a simple process. The biggest problem is waiting for all the students to finish.
Student response systems can give results for quizzes instantly. They require some training to manage but are simple enough to use. Students all get the questions at the same time and thus, no students are bored waiting for everyone else to finish.
Using technology in the classroom has many benefits, but does require some training to get used to for both students and teachers. Technology can help student learning improve in many ways.