3 Big Points in the Technology in the Classroom Debate Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on June 14th, 2012

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3 Big Points in the Technology in the Classroom Debate

Educational Technology

Technology has revolutionized the way that students learn and teachers teach.

This is true across every grade, school size, and school type — technology has changed the entire system of learning.

But is it a good change?

This debate has raged among teachers, administrators, and parents for decades now. Do computers have a place in a classroom? Do tablets? What about smartphones?

How far is too far in the debate of technology in the classroom?

Ultimately, that answer is up to you. These are some of the biggest points that technology advocates and diehard traditionalists use in the ongoing debate of technology in the classroom. 

Point 1. Society Is Based on Technology — But Technology Isn’t Certain


The first big point in the tech-in-the-classroom debate is that technology is everywhere.

Every person has a smartphone that’s capable of accessing nearly every single bit of information known to humanity — and it fits in someone’s pocket!

This little electronic miracle is just one of the technological marvels that permeate everyday life, especially for young students.

Televisions, smartphones, computers — there are rarely moments where they’re not looking at a screen.

There’s actually an advantage to all of that electronic input. These devices are the future, and students who learn how to use them will probably have an easier time using more advanced technology in the workplace.

But there’s a downside to this technology, too.

Namely, it doesn’t always work.

A battery can die. A cellular network can go down. An area of the country may not get service.

Overall, there are a lot of variables that go into making modern technology work. If one of them fails, then the technology also fails (or at least loses functionality).

For individuals who are connected 24/7 to their friends, entertainment, and education, one of those failures suddenly isolates someone from major parts of their lives.

That’s why opponents of technology in the classroom say it goes too far. All it takes is one fragile piece of the puzzle to break, and the whole digital system of accessibility crumbles with it.

Deciding Questions: Is technology reliable enough to keep students connected to tech-based education?

Point 2. Students Already Use Technology — But They Don’t Have to in a Classroom


Like we said in the previous section, nearly every student has already incorporated technology into their everyday life.

Supporters of tech in the classroom say that this makes it a no-brainer to digitize parts of education.

After all, if students are already using their smartphones and computers, why not have them do some schoolwork to be productive?

The results of this ideology are strikingly positive. Specifically, this kind of education is called blended learning, and it helps teachers reach a variety of students who learn in different ways.

Some students may learn from traditional lecture, others may need hands-on time, and others may need to complete interactive activities.

Regardless, tech in the classroom helps teachers differentiate their instruction for the best possible results when it comes to information retention and assessment success.

So why isn’t everyone on board with students using technology to learn?

Electronics — especially smartphones — are distracting in the classroom. If you teach on the same gadgets that students use to distract themselves, how can you be sure that students are learning?

In fact, having “tech off time” in a classroom is an excellent classroom management strategy if your students spend a little too much time looking at screens.

To make matters worse, too much screen time can damage a developing brain. This means using screen-based technology in the classroom may be dangerous to the physical development of students, especially if they’re young!

Technology plays a big enough role in people’s lives — especially children and teens. The classroom can give them a break from it all.

Deciding Question: Is technology valuable enough to use it to help students learn? Or should the classroom be a relief from the constantly-connected online world?

Point 3. Students Need to Communicate — But They Don’t Need Gadgets to Do It


Communication is crucial to students’ development, especially in terms of career readiness.

It empowers expression, collaboration, and a whole range of other soft skills that students will need throughout their lives.

Today, an incredible amount of communication takes place through text messaging, email, and social media.

In that respect, students learn the ins and outs of communication by living their everyday lives.

But without the supervision of a teacher, they may not be learning the right ins and outs.

After all, it’s much easier to be crass, forward, and even insulting when you’re not communicating with someone face-to-face. And even with the blinding pace of technology, etiquette and professionalism are essential in communication — especially communication lessons.

In a nutshell, this is why advocates of classroom tech say it’s important to communication. Learning how to kindly talk back and forth online is highly relevant to students’ everyday lives.

At the same time, opponents of classroom tech say students should embrace the fact that they’re so close to one another in school. It’s the ideal setting for in-person discourse, especially for students who don’t get much face-to-face time with others after school.

With all of that, it’s possible for students to learn gracious, polite communication with electronics.

But should they really use electronics to communicate when they can turn to someone and speak instead?

Deciding Question: How valuable is speech-based communication?  

Balance Technology in the Classroom with Blended Learning

Blended learning is the best example of successfully using technology in the classroom.

Blended learning means combining traditional instruction with cutting-edge technology to help students learn through a variety of teaching methods.

Are some students audible learners? Are others hands-on learners? Blended learning helps both of them! (And more.)

Want to learn more?

Check out the best blended learning strategies and how they help students succeed! 

Learn about Blended Learning >


About Sarah Layton

Sarah is a contributing author to the AES blog. She is committed to helping instructors and students succeed both in and out of the classroom.