September is here and for many of us our focus has shifted back to education, best practices and how technology in the classroom has been evolving over the years.
I recently stumbled on a video presented by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that discusses these very issues. In this video, Bill Gates discusses the future of the textbook and how the advancement of technology is almost certainly going to make the paper textbook obsolete in today’s classrooms. He argues that paper textbooks do not afford the necessary self-assessment tools and interactivity that online textbooks and online learning does. He states that a user should be able to go online, complete an assessment and then be presented with curriculum that is appropriate for their learning styles/level. Paper textbooks and traditional learning are not necessarily offering these key features in today’s classrooms.
Further to that point, Mark Kelley from CBC’s ‘Connect’ also focused a recent show on how the classroom has changed over the years and what role technology has in today’s schools. In this video, Mark interviews Author Nicholas Carr who argues against the use of technology in the classroom – stating that technology in the hands of students serves as a distraction more than it helps as a tool. Carr states that there is of course, good points for using technology in the classrooms, but that use of the internet influences the way we think and causes us to lose our attentive skills through interruptions and distractions.
The video concludes with short clips of the evolution of technology in schools and a segment highlighting current student views of how their studies (and lives) have been fully integrated with the internet. While the students in the video did agree that accessibility of the internet 24/7 does prove to be distracting, they seem to view it as the only way to be a student on campus. It appears that students in today’s society know how to manage the distractions in order to get what they need from the internet and its tools. Additionally, the students interviewed did acknowledge the benefits of a good old-fashioned library and book – it’s just that they don’t need to work so hard to get the answers these days. As one student put it “the internet makes learning easier”.
The internet, online learning and the future’s online textbooks make learning accessible, affordable and convenient. Learning online can be interactive, engaging and rewarding for both the instructor and the student. While the internet is not the only way to learn, it is quickly proving to be the most widely adopted by students worldwide.
Can we honestly disregard the evolution and importance of the computer, the internet and all things tech? Is it possible to limit technology in schools without negatively affecting how students learn? Will limiting students online resources in school serve as a disadvantage to them in the long run?
What do you think?