With the increase of the availability and applications of technology, the classroom is becoming more and more of an automated place. Students are able to access online tools to enhance their learning experience (using websites like Khan Academy) and teachers are able to quickly input students’ grades and attendance into online systems such as iPass.
Ashland Public Schools, for example, has a ratio of about two computers per student (“Massachusetts School and District Profiles”). In many schools, there is one laptop or device for every student to use in classroom activities and to take notes. This is helpful in the classroom setting because teachers are able to engage students in more activities to help them absorb information. However, many students at APS would agree that the amount of computers is sufficient, and there is no feeling of being cheated from the potential opportunities that other schools with a computer : student ratio of 1:1 have.
Many students are easily distracted by the glow of their computer screens and are able to access other, non-class related applications. Furthermore, countless studies have shown the benefits of taking notes by hand, as students are able to commit that information more readily to memory (Herbert). Handwriting notes contributed to “higher academic performance overall,” scientists found (Herbert). Students who mindlessly transcribed the lecture did not process or store the information nearly as well as the handwriting students.
Moreover, youths from all over the world where similar programs are in force are being faced with charges in stealing these devices, and “in 2008 . . . hundred of thousands of dollars [were] spent to replace equipment that went missing” (Snyder). Some students are not mature enough to maintain their laptops/devices. Hence, in schools where there are enough funds to give each student a computer, there should be a minimum age requirement of at least 10 or 11 years old. Schools would have to limit ownership to older and hopefully more mature students, or determine when students are mature enough to care for them. Another concern scientists have is the positive role handwriting plays in fine motor development, among other things, that would not be learned by just typing things into a computer (Bounds).
Teachers would have to get training in order to fix minor technical difficulties that frequently arise, even in AHS. Training would be essential because the time wasted having people fix minor technical glitches would cause the cost of the devices in time and manpower to outweigh the possible gains.
Additional pluses to surrounding students with as many computers as possible would be preparation for an increasingly automated workplace and college experience. It should be kept in mind that students still need to know how to function without computers, and just because there is a calculator that can add doesn’t mean that students do not need to know how to do arithmetic.
Bounds, Gwendolyn. “How Handwriting Trains the Brain.” How Handwriting Boosts the Brain. WSJ, 5 Oct. 2010. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
Herbert, Wray. “Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking*.” Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking. Association for Psychological Science RSS, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.
“Massachusetts School and District Profiles.” Technology (2013-14). N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2 2015.
Snyder, Tamar. “How to Keep School Laptops Safe.” How to Keep School Laptops Safe | Edutopia. Edutopia, 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.