Mobile technology has made the internet and access to information easier for students out of and in the classroom. The latter of these is presenting professors with classroom problems that require new ways of in-class instruction. Ever since technology has achieved a standard presence in most classrooms from kindergarten to universities, its presence has been debated. The current problem is how to best use technology that has a generation of students whose lives are far more technology-focused than any previous generation.
The Education Problem
The classroom is a place for learning and experimenting. It is where ideas can be exchanged, other viewpoints can be heard, and personal discussion improves the communication skills of students. An argument from proponents of technology in the classroom is all these aspects of learning can be done on the Internet. A deeper reality is that nearly all of the students have developed a lifestyle where these classroom advantages are practiced out of school every day. In other words, in-class participation is not required because the same experience can be found any time outside of the classroom – and with a broader group of people.
The Main Problem
If the use of technology in the classroom would be restricted to focusing on the class subject matter at-hand, the opposition would be less. But some of the supporters of restricting technology in the classroom come from other students. They complain that when they are trying to learn, other students are shopping online or looking at social media sites and become a distraction. As George Carlin once quipped, “Why not deprive someone else of an education?” For the distracted student, the problem goes beyond the issue of distraction to getting the maximum benefit for their educational dollar.
An Obvious Solution
If the case is being made that there are students who prefer learning through technology, then let them take online courses and get a degree. The reputation of online degrees earned from accredited two- and four-year colleges and universities has dramatically increased over the years. While not applicable to every degree program, many colleges offer hybrid programs where a mix of on-campus and online courses can be combined to get a degree.
A problem with the proposed solution is that more than a few parents send their not-yet-ready-for-the-real-world children to college to get them away from the house. The hope is that they may decide moving out is better than the semester shuffle of moving in and out two or three times a year. Remember that the majority of students attending on-campus classes are between the ages of 18 and 25, with 25 being the new “they are ready to be on their own” age of maturity.
Classrooms are designed to be places of learning but instead have become places where semi-interested bodies come to rest for an unspecified number of years. The statistics show that about 50 percent of freshmen who enter college complete a degree with 6 years. Technology has served to entertain the non-graduating members for a certain amount of time. As for the other half, they have been using technology to increase their knowledge and be better prepared for the workforce. There is no need to restrict technology in the classroom because in both cases it is serving its purpose.