Technology in the Classroom - Pros and Cons
Before we get right into the advantages and disadvantages of technology in education and the classroom, let's explore what role 'technology' undertakes with regards to education. Technology at this stage, mainly has to do with the concept of computers & tablets and the abilities that they afford with regards to searching on the internet for information, typing out essays and so on.
Advantages of Technology in Education
#1 Explaining Concepts in an Alternative Format
This is potentially a hugely significant benefit of technology and its role it has to play with helping kids learn in the classroom.
For example, let's say a teenager was learning a bit about microeconomics and the "law of supply" and they went over it with the teacher -- however it didn't quite sink in the first time. Instead of asking the teacher, they could refer to an iPad or tablet and bring up Khan Academy for an alternative explanation of the law of supply & play the video (they could pause, rewind and replay) until it is fully grasped.
#2 Monitor Educational Progress Better
With technology you can set up numerous amounts of arithmetic tests, biology tests on different topics and so on. This will allow the teacher to get a good idea on what topics need to be covered again or more thoroughly as well as how well the student is doing overall in comparison to the rest of the class and whether more work is required. Plus it saves time for the teacher with regards to marking (as the computer will be able to save time through marking).
#3 Lower the Costs of Textbooks (Education for Everyone)
As information can be sourced online (pretty much immediately) the need for textbooks is slowly diminishing as you can essentially follow a set curriculum all through the information sources provided at certain websites. Moreover, the information is often more accessible and quicker to find -- than going through text books.
#4 Improved Accessibility of Information
Somewhat following on from point #1, if there is a child with a high learning ability and they have finished all that is asked from them "curriculum wise" -- they can go on and use the computer or iPad to delve into further research to explore relative but extra information to gain an even better comprehension of the material being taught.
#5 Better & More Efficient Way of Organizing
Generally speaking the main benefit of technology in general is to improve speed, organization and efficiency (and general enhancement) and this is exactly what technology in the classroom does to. Whereby teachers can present information in a more engaging and informative manner (through presentations, videos, interactive educational games and so on) -- usually through interactive whiteboards & the like.
Disadvantages of Technology in Education
#1 Training on Understanding the Technology (for Teachers & Students)
Of course with any new device, new program, new aspect of software -- everyone is going to need to training and an initial 'set in period' to understand how it all works and then to benefit from it. This is obviously a cost investment in both monetary terms for the teachers and opportunity cost with time for the children (instead of learning how a piece of software works -- they could actually be learning about the material at hand).
#2 Diminish Personal Education (Human Touch & Feel)
Especially in younger students, although learning the material is a priority (that can be achieved through Khan Academy) one of the positive externalities that comes with learning it in a classroom and with people -- is the social skills that come with it and being able to work in a group. Which learning from a video on an iPad simply won't teach you. It is as much about the experience of learning as the actual learning itself.
#3 Serves as a Source for Procrastination
This is probably one of the most recognisable disadvantages of technology in education. The internet is a great tool for getting distracted and prevent child from learning, whether they are playing games online or checking sport scores. It is difficult to regulate very single student and the content they are searching for effectively.
#4 Technology for the Sake of Technology?
Sometimes just because a teacher has a computer, doesn't mean they have to use it. In most cases getting across a concept with just a blackboard and chalk is the best way to go about it -- whereas sometimes in can be tempting to use the interactive whiteboard and actually make the whole thing more confusing.
#5 Poorer Areas Won't Be able to Benefit
You can see from the above interactive whiteboards aren't cheap -- and certainly some schools in poorer districts simply won't be able to afford such devices and benefit from the benefits technology has to offer. So potentially technology could serve to exacerbate further the inequality of education yet further with rich schools (private) to poor schools -- putting them at yet an even greater disadvantage.
Who knows where future technological developments will take us and the pros & cons they will have to offer in education. E.g. I say computers for now --but at a future date we may see robots take on teaching role (or at least an assisted one).