There are dissenting views on the importance, or lack thereof, of technology in schools. While some strongly believe that technology is the wings on which the future is flying, others shrug it off.
Yet, Silicon Valley continues to be the innovation hub where more and more tech startups set up their headquarters.
Let’s take a closer look at technology in schools, such as AI tools, from both angles as we try to settle this debate of whether schools should adopt it or not.
No Technology in Schools? No Problem
Ironically, employees of reputable tech companies in Silicon Valley prefer to send their kids to a school without technology. Some CEOs go further by limiting screen use at home. They agree with some education experts who opine that technology has not made students any better, going by test scores.
Therefore, in an institution like the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, knowledge grows through creative thinking and physical activity.
In such schools, teachers discourage the use of downloaded material to shape young minds. Instead, they prefer artistic activities as the ideal form of learning.
It is, therefore, no wonder that you will find a teacher assisting students with knitting to teach problem-solving skills. They teach fractions by cutting fruits and pies, which everyone will admit is more fun.
On the other hand, multiplication skills are instilled by asking students to pretend they ate lightning bolts.
It is not only Waldorf schools that prefer doing away with technology in schools. Some researchers believe that it hinders learning. For instance, institutions of higher learning employ PowerPoint presentations in the classrooms, yet this method has been the subject of criticism due to its constraints.
Since it sums up the major points, students tend to assume that anything excluded from the slide is unimportant. Besides, it is condemned as a passive approach that inhibits active student participation. As a result, PowerPoint presentations make learning boring.
However, it is not only academic reasons that make some institutions put a hold on technology in schools. With nearly every student having a smartphone, social interactions have become a thing of the past.
Instead of holding in-person conversations, teenagers would rather text and post selfies on social media or make money on TikTok. Students barely take their eyes off the screen to talk and learn a freshman’s name. The result is children with poor social skills.
The Upside of Technology in Schools
While teaching without utilizing any form of technology in schools is commendable, even Waldorf schools acknowledge the importance of technology. For this reason, the institution allows limited use of gadgets beginning from the eighth grade.
Suffice it to say, even tech gurus who prefer to have their kids not rely on technology admit that, at some point, they have no choice but to introduce it to them. After all, tomorrow’s world is invested heavily in technology, and children must be able to handle the digital 21st century.
Still, the usefulness of technology in schools goes beyond the PowerPoint presentations used to teach in classrooms. Running a school is not easy, and technology comes in handy in administrative matters.
Imagine a school where you have to access fee structure, course selection, and attendance records in physical files kept in different places. Teachers would have the extra job of running up and down trying to find the information.
Technology makes it easier with integrated platforms that allow the administration to store all reports in one place.
Then comes the parents who want to be constantly aware of their children’s performance. They expect seamless communication with the teachers. A portal where parents can log in to check their children’s progress is crucial as it gives teachers ample time to focus on other schoolwork.
Such integrated platforms are bound to deal with high upload traffic. However, the institution can still make money with unused bandwidth, thereby recovering some of the cost incurred in data fees.
The other issue is that of safety while children are in school. With US mass shootings increasing sharply over the years, parents need to know their children are safe.
Moreover, natural disasters are on the rise, and accidents happen regardless of the safety measures in place. Luckily, there are many safety apps to alert students in case of emergencies, such as fires and tornadoes around the school, thereby giving parents some peace of mind.
It is easy to dismiss the debate and conclude “to each his own,” but let’s face it – technology is not slowing down for anyone to catch up. Instead, it is getting more advanced, and it is up to you to ensure that you are not left behind.
Even reputable Waldorf schools only delay introducing technology in schools because there is no denying learners will have to utilize it. So, whether for use by students, parents, teachers, or administrators, technology is relevant in learning institutions and is here to stay.