Pressured by technology

Haislar comments on the issues of technology in the classroom

Teachers have been trying to incorporate more technology in the classroom, and I think most of us would agree that this is a good thing. Everything is going digital, so why not schools, right? But what happens when a student does not have access to the level of technology required? Should they get left behind simply because they do not have a smartphone?

Take pop quizzes for example. Believe it or not, they use to be on paper, and you actually had to write in the answers! Now we review with fifty million games of Kahoot and take a quick quiz on a Google survey. You could walk down the hallways during the school day and probably hear at least three different classrooms playing Kahoot. Believe me, you can not mistake that theme song.

So what happens when you are not a student with a 1:1 laptop? What happens when you do not have a smartphone?

“I have incorporated technology into my classroom, many of my lessons have become dependent on access to the technology,” Christina Whelehon, an English teacher, said. “I am constantly searching for new ways to incorporate technology into my lessons, and it makes the lesson more relevant and engaging.”

While technology can definitely improve any classroom, some students are being blocked from participating in their classes by the mere fact that they won’t, or can’t, spend the money for a new phone. And why should they? How is being embarrassed in class or being told to silently pay attention while the rest of your classmates play games, okay? Is that not a form of ‘peer pressure’?

Do not get me wrong, I love my smartphone! But as someone who rather recently joined the club of smartphone technology, I still feel like expecting students to use their own tech for classroom activities is not a bandwagon that all classes should jump on. If you want students to do some online research, maybe you should try the library instead of relying on your students’ phones. Those computer labs are there for a reason.

There are ways to make sure students do not feel left out.

“I make sure that it is not punitive-meaning, that the activities that require technology (such as Kahoot) are just for practice and are not worth a grade,” Whelehon said. “I do have lessons that require technology for seniors but with those, I make sure that I give students enough time to be able to access a computer to complete the activity.”

Technology used in the right way can make a classroom complete and can bring students together. However, when teachers expect and plan for students to use their own smartphones in class, students can quickly feel left out and embarrassed.