Technology and Education: What Have We Done With It?

By Mary Udoh. Mary, 18, is studying Microbiology at the University of Uyo, in Nigeria. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Technology was given to us eighty years ago. What have we done with it?

Since the inception of technology in the 80’s and even the 30’s, there have been tremendous changes and improvement worldwide. Technology now runs in the veins of society acting as the fuel that drives our lives. It has become an integral part of daily life and has definitely benefited society. It has even brought luxury in the life of the common man. For instance, automation brought about by technology has saved human effort and time to a large extent. It has also brought distant places closer and simplified information access, making the world a smaller place to live in.

From faster achievements thanks to automation in industry and household, different modes of transportation, advancement in the medical field and impact on entertainment and advertising, to redefined communication, satellite technology, data management and information retrieval, even the onset of the digital age, because presently, there’s nothing analog about this world.

Coming down to the field of education, we live in a high-tech world—with high-tech classrooms. We embrace the benefits of using iPads during classes, integrating tweets during presentations, and teaching students while using smart TVs. We know the many benefits of incorporating technology while teaching, such as adding diversity to lessons, increasing student interaction, and bringing new perspectives and knowledge to the class.

Inasmuch as this is of so much advantage, indeed, what we do with this technology really matters. Using this technology can change a child’s brain.  The time spent with technology doesn’t just give kids newfangled ways of doing things, it changes the way their brains work. For example, while video games may condition the brain to pay attention to multiple stimuli, they can lead to distraction and decreased memory. Yes! Children may be very good in using search engines to look up websites, like the NUHA Blogging Website for educational information—but they will not be very good at remembering it.

Overuse of technology can affect a child’s own mood.  They’ll find it really hard to empathize. Of course, technology can be our best friend, but it can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives if we’re always too busy bridging the walk from one block to the other on the cell phone. At this point, it doesn’t matter if machines think, but rather if men do. Therefore, children might have difficulty developing social skills and even emotional reactions.

If we become so bent on using technology 24/7, then we allow it to become a dangerous master. We exercise less, and much worse is when we easily gain access to technology that includes cars, television, computers and mobile devices because time engaged in physical activity drops. Hence the rise in obesity in both children and adults.

To curb this menace, we need to monitor the way we use technology. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or both, make sure you know how your kids, and even you as an adult are using technology.  Many classroom computers have restrictions on which sites can be used. If yours doesn’t, consider adding them or checking the search history to know what your students are doing. For parents, some mobile phone plans offer family-friendly options that let parents restrict calls or texts during parent-established times.

Also teach responsible usage. Don’t ignore what technology can offer, though. Instead, talk with students about establishing their Internet footprint, and the long-range consequences of putting inappropriate information into cyberspace.  Encourage students to discuss tricky situations they may encounter online and help them work to a positive resolution.

Be up to date with recent technology, be it Hi5, Snapchat, or whatever the current online trend is, stay current so you can recognize and head off any problems early on.

Use classroom technology wisely. It’s easy to allow technology (i.e. videos, movies) to take precedence in a lesson. Be sure to use these tools to augment—not substitute for—your teaching.

You might as well offer alternatives to technology. Give students an assignment that requires reading a hard copy of a material. Task them with interviewing each other—in person—instead of texting questions. Conduct class outside where you can sit and discuss a topic without the usual distractions.

Indeed, technology makes our lives easier. Today’s students have tremendous opportunities to learn and to connect by using it. But with each advantage comes a potential cost. When we understand those costs and can minimize them, we can keep the use of technology positive.

So, technology was given to us eighty years ago. Now we know what to do with it.

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