As many students have already experienced, technology has made its way into the classroom. It comes in several forms; most notably is probably Blackboard, founded in 1997, which serves as an online outlet for students to check grades, download reading material and take quizzes.
There are also fully digital textbooks which you can read on your laptop or tablet computer. As many know, they’re awesome because they are typically inexpensive.
But as technology continues to advance and devices become increasingly more advanced and encompass more daily functions both in and outside of the classroom, is there a point when it becomes just a little bit too much?
Hybrid classes are a type of class offered which are partially online but still conducted in the classroom. The benefit of the class is a vast majority of the reading material is online and may or may not need to be printed. The classes also allow students to engage in online discussion in forums on any number of topics, and the chance to post work online for review.
Some classes are offered entirely online in a similar manner and many tools are used to connect students to the professor.
If the class is all presented through one outlet then it is pretty consolidated, but sometimes a professor will ask students to start a blog or set up an account on a website that allows everyone to mark when they are available, or maybe both.
Eventually you can wind up with dozens of bookmarks to different websites and different icons going to your books and maybe a sticky note on your keyboard reminding you what your password is for fall semester.
There’s no doubt the use of online tools can reduce the need to print off paper, and can be conveniently accessible on a device with a web connection.
No matter how convenient and, perhaps more importantly in the case of heavy textbooks, lightweight it is to have all your textbooks on an iPad, there is really nothing as frustrating as your biology book running out of batteries.
Digital tools for classrooms have many of the same setbacks encountered before it became popular to just use your computer to watch movies. Remember when your parents had a remote control for the TV, and the DVD player and the stereo system? Well now you have a phone which may have a bunch of different apps you use to watch presentations, edit documents and of course send texts. On your laptop or tablet computer you might have an application for your books and another for your documents.
Combined with all the websites you need to be connected to it can just become a lot to deal with. Most students are familiar with the experience of having a web browser open and utilizing tons of tabs for different websites at the same time.
The use of technology is supposed to be helpful, but just because we juggle apps and websites instead of papers and books doesn’t mean we’re going in the right direction.
Professors should strive to make their digital presentations as streamlined as possible and incorporate as few third-party applications as they possibly can.
Students should work to organize their digital lives so it does not collide with their online school lives. This could mean learning to keep an old-school spiral notebook-type planner. It never loses its connection and the batteries never die, thus ensuring you don’t forget anything as long as you don’t lose the planner.
As we continue to implement new devices, applications and web services into our lives and classrooms we need to learn to make it more streamlined and efficient so that checking on what assignment is due doesn’t become a confusing ordeal where sometimes you accidentally share your grade to Facebook while you were trying to log into Blackboard.
Technology is not a bad thing and it is certainly not going away.
But there is nothing wrong with taking a step back and relying on tried and true methods like using a notebook, pencil and whiteboard.