By Faith Lingen
Education is constantly evolving. Incorporating new technology to improve teaching is not a new concept. Over the past decade, school districts have started implementing technology such as Smartboards and 1:1 devices. Many students now receive iPads or Chromebooks that they are expected to bring to class every day. But is the hefty cost worth the implementation? And are these new technologies really helping students learn?
Last year, the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District decided to provide incoming seventh graders (Class of 2024) with new Chromebooks. This year, Chromebooks were provided to incoming freshmen (Class of 2023) in addition to incoming seventh graders.
Many teachers appreciate the advantages that these 1:1 devices bring to their lessons. Mrs. Hallock, a science teacher at OBHS, has been using the devices in her classes for three years. She explains that using Chromebooks saves a tremendous amount of paper and time in the copy room. It also allows students to have immediate and easy access to all of their work.
“Using the Chromebooks allows students to be able to redo their work more efficiently. It also lets me grade papers faster, which then lets students receive their grades sooner,” Mrs. Hallock says.
Despite some of the advantages of Chromebooks, put yourself in the shoes of a student who just received a 1:1 device for the first time. Even if a student uses technology on a daily basis, he or she may have never used it in a way meant for learning. Many students sit in class, trying to figure out how to use the Chromebook rather than listening to what the teacher is saying. Words go in one ear and out the other.
Freshman Sofia Gagliardi says, “We have been working with pen and paper our whole lives, so to now bring a new technology like this into our lives when we have fewer than four years left is unnecessary and confusing.”
Yes, this technology provides students with new ways to take notes (which can be cool once you have the hang of it), but notetaking on the Chromebook takes more time than you may think. In fact, most students never learned how to properly type. Having a teacher talk fast while you have to type notes, furiously pressing one key at a time, can be frustrating.
“If the school could spend some time [teaching us] how to type, then maybe we wouldn't be struggling so much with the devices,” said an anonymous OBHS student from the class of 2024.
Chromebooks put a big weight on students’ shoulders. Physically and mentally. Keeping the Chromebook in a case won’t necessarily prevent damage either. The device could break at any given moment while not stored. Having the added responsibility of protecting a Chromebook can add to a student’s stress. Not to mention the extra weight of four pounds that is now carried around on our shoulders in addition to heavy backpacks. Students’ back pain and shoulder pain is sure to be exacerbated.
Screen time is another valid concern. According to Jan-Willem Bruggink’s research in his article “More than 6 in 10 People Wear Glasses or Contact Lenses,” the number of people who wear glasses has increased over the years. Screens emit something called HEV light. This light has been linked to damage of eye tissue. It's true that teens do look at their phones a lot. So, why add additional screen time during a six-hour school day?
Implementing technology like 1:1 Chromebooks may help students’ learning in some ways, but it’s important to consider the drawbacks before mandating the use of these devices on a daily basis.
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