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Is technology in the classroom a waste of time?

Schools across the country are rapidly turning to interactive whiteboards, iPads, and laptops to excite students about learning--and prepare them for jobs in a globalized world. But educators disagree about whether they are effective teaching tools or just a waste of time.

YES Repairing and upgrading technology is extremely expensive. Schools now spend more of their money on gadgets and less on classroom supplies. It would be one thing if kids were learning more. But researchers have little data to support that notion.

There is evidence, however, that once technology is put in the classroom, it often sits idle. When it is used, too much time goes into learning how to use it rather than actual learning.

In his 1854 book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau made an observation that now seems visionary: "We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate."


Are our thoughts more important just because technology gives us a faster way to express them? We should listen to Thoreau--and think twice before buying too much technology for our schools. Just because something is new doesn't mean it's a better teaching tool. Yes, students have to be proficient in technology, but first we should make sure they have something "important to communicate."



NO Interactive Web sites can do a lot to foster learning in our schools. Several sites now allow users to simultaneously advance their knowledge and sharpen their communications skills. Learning activities that use technology let students apply what they've studied by creating blogs, Web sites, and other forms of multimedia. This encourages a higher level of critical thinking while reaching students with a wide range of learning styles.

Online tools like You Tube and Prezi give teachers the opportunity to engage students in creative ways, enabling richer classroom discussions.

Today's students have grown up in the digital age, where learning is not only important, but fun. Allowing kids to use social media and interactive sites in school--which they already use at home--is just common sense. It also lets teachers show kids what it means to be responsible digital citizens--an area in which many schools are failing.

In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, students must rely on technology more than ever to succeed. It's our responsibility to make sure that both teachers and parents understand why.


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Title Annotation:NEWS DEBATE
Author:Thomas, Paul; Sheninger, Eric
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Apr 2, 2012
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