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Technology in Schools

March 14th, 2015

by Patrick Menlove

This was my English essay for my National 5 folio, but as I thought it relevant to BeXcellent, I have decided to post it here.

Today my attention was drawn to something I am very opinionated about, the use – or more importantly the misuse – of technology in schools. A friend of mine was researching Ohms Law in Physics on his phone, but had it confiscated because phones are big, bad and banned. My friend had taken initiative for his learning, and was beginning to understand the most important concept in National 5 Physics, and yet his initiative and creativity were squashed. Schools are missing an opportunity with technologies and this stone-age style education will thrive a generation of ignoramuses.

This year, 2014, many major websites suffered outages because dated web routers ran out of IP addresses. To the mere non-technical-whiz-kid mortal, this means that the internet is full up. Why? Because everyone uses it! The world is dependent upon electronic devices because they perform many tasks better than a human could ever dream of! So why are we not educated on and with them and taught how to utilise them properly? In the coming years we will see drones delivering packages for Amazon, and many other typically human jobs being taken over by a machine. Yet, many people are lucky if they can even get google search to show up! Why are we left ignorant to the principal technologies which run our modern world? More importantly, schools are supressing their use, which begs the question: is education doing its purpose when it is teaching us what life was like in a technologically deprived world belonging in some distant memory where horse and cart was the quickest way to transfer information?

Within the next few years, I picture a technologically integrated school with an unsurpassable system of education. For starters, all pupils would have a tablet or laptop (and would be provided with one if they were not in possession of one). Most devices nowadays have the ability to find their position accurate to within metres, so there would be no need for registers, the system would detect from positioning who was absent and automatically update the registers. Then, pupils would arrive at a class, start up their devices and be able to see all their jotters and textbooks, electronically accessible everywhere. Homework would be listed on a virtual homework list, and teachers would be able to monitor its completion with ease. Corrections would also be so much easier as the system could check answers automatically. For group tasks, group noticeboards can be created and ideas shared in a social media style environment. I believe all this is possible, as it can be done with the technology we have. No, this is not something that belongs in a sci-fi movie set in the year 3000, this can happen now! All that is required is the drive to do it. Recently, the Florida Polytechnic University in America opened with no books in its library, and instead made the students able to access many more e-books. As far as I am aware, their librarian never had to worry about overdue books ever again… Then again would there ever need to be a librarian again?

Although seemingly flawless, admittedly this design does have one key flaw: technology is dependent upon electricity – and we all know of some point in our lives where there has been a power cut. If this were to happen and our technologically advanced school were to be running off of the national grid… Catastrophe! Unsaved work, no registration, homework deleted and at least ten minutes after the power is restored everything is up and working again. All summed up: a head teacher’s nightmare! But luckily there are solutions to these problems. The school could produce its own electricity, with a wind turbine or solar panels. This would also make the school eco-friendly (which brings me to what would be another argument against it – the school would draw a lot of power). In any situation, an emergency generator would be installed to provide emergency power for a limited time, in the worst case scenario. If, however, the emergency power failed, the system could be made to automatically save work and homework, and to back itself up regularly, and this would prevent the loss of data. In the event of power loss, registration could be done on paper – just like the old days. In actual fact, the only thing impeding such a school is cost. Even then, the cost is only initial, and would pay back scores in savings in paper, jotters, pencils and all these resources that can be replaced by portable devices. There is no doubt to me that this is the way forward for learning.

In conclusion, it is my belief that schools are not making full use of technological opportunities, like the use of the mobile phone, to provide a superior education. I believe some schools are beginning to adopt more technologically oriented methods, but not at a rate which can keep up with the progress made in the field of informatics. I don’t see why computers cannot be brought to school and notes taken on those, as I’m sure I would be much more likely to revise if everything was in the one place and I didn’t have to rummage through a bag full of 7 jotters and creased pieces of paper that are as aesthetically pleasing as pigs after a long roll around in mud. We should be conditioned to work with technology from a young age, not the opposite. Technology plays a vital part – probably the most important – in our modern society, and I think we have a right to be educated about it properly and encouraged to use it.

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