Why Technology Alone Won't Fix Schools Tuesday August 11 2020, 12:00 AM
Why Technology Alone Won't Fix Schools

It is hard to imagine modern life without technology. The same applies to the contemporary educational system. Governments all around the world are figuring out ways to digitalize school curriculums and improve educational standards. More computers appear in classrooms and carrying a laptop at school is becoming a new rule. But does it automatically improve the quality of education? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Schools belong to the complex system of educational facilities that operate according to their own rules and hierarchy. It is important to remember that school infrastructure revolves around people. The human factor is by far the most important element of any successful school reform that improves academic objectives.

Technology on its own has powerful but limited potential. The reason behind it is simple: technology only amplifies what is available. If the pedagogical potential is not sufficient enough using gadgets won't help. The problem with many schools is the lack of adequate coordination between innovative ideas, administration, and teachers. The desired goal is to improve the way students learn to improve academic results. But what really matters is everything that teachers bring to the table. In other words, boosting pedagogical potential should come first. School management rarely provides enough resources to adapt the curriculum and train teachers. When teachers don't know how to employ digital tools properly, there's little room for technology to amplify their potential. Overloading classrooms with laptops and tablets won't necessarily help children study better.

The same happens when children spend too much time using technology at home. When children are left to study on their own with gadgets, the technology amplifies their natural inclinations.

Children do have a natural desire to learn, play and develop. But they also enjoy distracting themselves with games and funny videos. Digital tools amplify both of these predispositions. The balance between the two is different from my child to child. Yet distraction seems to be a big problem when there's no adult guidance involved. Steve Jobs famously admitted that he didn't allow his children to have iPads. Instead, they had book discussions and exchanging of ideas.

Turns out he wasn't the only one, and other tech gurus also limit their children's use of technology and do not believe that more machines contribute to a great education.

So what is the solution to the problem? More quality adult supervision and communication. Teachers should pay attention to what every individual student needs. It can be an extra push to concentrate and not get distracted or tips on how to find the necessary information. Adult guidance should be a priority as it shapes learning behavior and soft skills in children. Even the internet is full of useful resources children can access alone. But digital learning resources and instructional videos are only useful when children know how to look for and use them well. This knowledge is crucial, as it becomes a part of their research and analysis ability that they carry into the future. Of course, students can rely on help with essay writing online –service, where a team of professionals does the work for them. But this can only work for more mature students who know why they need to save time. School students have different goals: they have to learn how to study efficiently. Once again, it is not the amount of technology used in schools but what teachers ask pupils to do that matters. Using a tablet to browse Instagram will not improve academic performance.

Another important issue, which technology cannot fix is the socio-economic disparity. Different research demonstrates that digital tools once again amplify what is already there, and in this case, it's inequality. Children who come from different backgrounds also bring different skill sets, and technology cannot even it out. Learners with widen vocabularies get much more with resources like Wikipedia, while students with behavior issues have no idea of what is going on and keep doing unnecessary things during lessons, such as playing games or simply speaking with each other. Wealthy parents can pay tutors so their children can learn to program the devices that others are still learning to use. Gadgets at school can provide equal opportunities to children but can't give

those children equal background and skills. In other words, children still face the same kind of problem that is the influence of their background.

It is time to mention the "Goldilocks Principle" because it explains why technology alone won't improve academic performance. The effective use of digital technologies for learning is all about balance. Too many gadgets is a bad thing, but neither too little is a good thing. Schools have to figure out just the right amount and work around it. Research indicates that the best-performing countries don't make students use technology 24/7, but some of the least successful don't use it enough. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims that to have good academic results between student’s computers should be used for about 25 minutes a day.

This principle also applies to how students use technology at home. The best-performing students don't use gadgets excessively but have easy access to them when needed. Looks like motivated and hard-working students focus on their homework and extracurricular activities and hobbies at home.

Another important question is what does technology replace at school? Does it repair inefficient methods or does it ruin effective methodologies? Do teachers spend more time adapting to the new digital tools than developing students? It will be possible to answer these questions in the future when more long-term research and data is available.

To conclude all of the above, according to the OECD report technology can amplify great teaching. But great technology cannot replace poor pedagogical potential and ineffective teaching skills. First, there is a need to upgrade teaching potential and find the root causes of poor academic performance. It can be done via ICT, for example, which are undoubtedly vital for contemporary learning at schools and colleges.

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