The Instigator
gwarrenster
Con (against)
The Contender
TheShadeM
Pro (for)

Technology in the classroom

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/22/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 763 times Debate No: 103274
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

gwarrenster

Con

I want to debate the level and types of technology that are appropriate for a secondary level classroom. Since the con-side is harder, I will take this side.

The debate format is relatively open. I do want the final round (3) to be for final replies only, no new arguments, but other than that, please feel free to use any citation format, and post in the round in any order.
TheShadeM

Pro

Technology should definitely be allowed in the classroom.

My opponent has somewhat defined this topic in that "classroom" here refers to secondary-level classrooms and I think it is safe to assume that my opponent means current and future classrooms (not classrooms in the past).

As such, it is important for us to bear in mind that classrooms, like everything else in this world is fast evolving. That means that every day, more and more methods or ways of learning and gaining information are becoming ineffective, inefficient or redundant.

It is just so much easier and more entertaining for the student when they are handed an iPad instead of a textbook. Often, textbooks are heavy and can only include so many pictures. A gadget on the other hand, is slim, light and has a capacity a thousand times more than a book.

In subjects like Chemistry and Physics, it is extremely important to make the student better able to visualise the inner workings of substances, for example the anatomy of a molecule. If you have seen the software they use in classrooms now, students are able to touch the screen and rotate the molecule to improve their understanding of the subject. This is impossible to do if you only have a book with a few pictures.

It is also important to remember that technology is not exclusive to having traditional books. You can have both. You can have textbooks and blackboards to accommodate to students who are more keen on traditional methods of learning. At the same time, technology acts as an invaluable supplement to that learning process.

Heck, even Anki which is a software much used in classrooms, is a simple form of technology. Basically, Anki is a software which displays flashcards. It is often used for language learning or simply to memorise stuff like Geography or flags of different countries. Under my opponents' model, he would ban Anki simply because it runs on a computer.

My opponent's main argument will undoubtedly be that all this technology is a distraction to the students. It will only be a distraction if teachers or parents fail to properly monitor it's usage in classrooms, just like anything else I think. We are already living in a world where this is not a new thing. Thousands of classrooms all around the world are using some form of gadget. Kids are already using smartphones when they are 10. What we should be doing is to tap into this amazing form of learning instead of being paranoid about it.

Also, if you've seen Virtual Reality software, children and adults can "step into" various virtual environments like oceans, historical sites etc. This is what Facebook, YouTube and other big companies are going into right now. The potential for learning and knowledge is becoming more and more exciting, and children in schools, out of all people should be first group of people to experience these things. They are after all, at that age where they are still trying to gain ideas on career prospects and what's out there in the world.

All-in-all, technology provides a more engaging and fun learning experience. To make learning fun alone is already a challenge. We should embrace changes while continuing to monitor it's use, not simply ban it altogether.
Debate Round No. 1
gwarrenster

Con

Thank you for accepting this debate.

To further clarify my original statement, this debate is on the level and types of technology that are appropriate for a secondary level classroom, not whether it should be in the classroom at all. I do believe that technology is not just important, but imperative in today's society. It is true that the majority of students have access to cell phones (smart phones), tablets, and computers from a very early age. Unfortunately, the primary purpose of this technological use outside of the classroom is for social media, pop culture consumption, and gaming. The reason this is unfortunate for educators, parents, and the children is because these educational distractions are also available on any internet enabled device students use in a classroom.

Textbooks do not have extra distractions, need login info, or run out of batteries. E-readers and tablets have all of these issues. Not only do tablets cease to function as anything more than a paperweight without power, but they are more expensive than textbooks. Since school budgets are often quite limited, it is not common to have a 1-1 tablet ratio but having enough textbooks for students is rarely an issue. Even if a school used tablets and e-readers to present information for students, including digital textbooks with enhanced learning tools, the school still needs to pay for textbooks, and textbook edition updates. Having tablets only seems to increase the cost of classroom materials, and increase the electricity usage (and carbon footprint by extension) for the school.

I agree with opponent's point about the possibilities of visualizing the inner workings of a molecule, or biological cells and systems, and with the use of virtual reality it almost reminds me of the kinds of activities the fictional Mrs. Frizzle led on The Magic School Bus cartoon. Fanciful, entertaining, and also not necessary for student understanding. Teachers can present the same content, with the same levels of student understanding, using an overhead projector, blackboards, and textbooks as a teacher using Powerpoint, SmartBoards, and tablets.

Students are going to be bringing their phones to school, and we can not monitor what is being used on them without looking over every shoulder all the time. The ease of app switching, and the prevalence of popup notifications, makes it inevitable that students will be off task if they have access to these devices during class time. The alternative of giving students devices with lockout restrictions is only a temporary stopgap. I've seen the hacks they use to access sites that are not allowed. One example among many is YouTube. A network firewall prevents any computer connected to the school's internet from accessing YouTube directly. It does not limit the use of Google Translate, which has an imbedded mini-browser, which they exploit to watch any YouTube video since the main browser shows they are only on the Google Translate website.

Technology can definitely enhance learning, and like any tool, can be used properly or grossly misused. I maintain that the effort to monitor and control misuse often outweighs the small benefit for the current usage in classrooms.
TheShadeM

Pro

Thank you for an engaging and civil discussion we are having so far.

I will move straight to rebuttals.

1) My opponent says that this debate is on the levels and types of technology. He (I use He to simplify the use of gender pronouns) however, has failed to actually propose or define what exactly the level or types of technology he is willing for classrooms to use. The final paragraph of his last argument was:

"Technology can definitely enhance learning, and like any tool, can be used properly or grossly misused. I maintain that the effort to monitor and control misuse often outweighs the small benefit for the current usage in classrooms."

This paragraph definitely suggests that he will block all forms of technology in the classroom, which mostly includes phones, tablets and the internet (yes, no doubt chairs and chalks are also a form of technology but I think we can all agree we are not talking about those tools. We are talking about the tools of the 21st century. Arguing on the exact meaning of technology is not very helpful in this debate).

Thus, my opponent has only managed to create a lot of confusion regarding what exactly his stance is. On what hand, he is willing to consider some forms of technology, and on the other hand he maintains that it is better if we don't open the opportunity for misuse and that we should remove it in its entirety.

2) My opponent then says that the main purpose for these gadgets is social media and entertainment. Fair enough. However, I will remind him that distractions are always going to exist, not only in the classroom, but anywhere else. Bear in mind, that we are talking about secondary school students here. These are students who have a reasonable understanding of how they should behave in the classroom. We should therefore be able to put a decent amount of trust in them that they will use these tools in the best way possible.

Even if there are no gadgets in class, this does not guarantee students are concentrating all the time anyway. There will be those who will daydream, fidget with their pencils and pens, drawing stuff totally unrelated to what the teacher is teaching, you get my point. If indeed your concern is on students' attention, rest assured even the top scorers will not give 100% of their attention all the time. Their minds are in all sorts of places like the gym, what's on TV, food, etc.

You have to understand that allowing students to use gadgets in class is not simply just allowing them free time to use their phones. Just like a normal class, often the teacher will have a quiz, an interactive tour, etc. The teacher will be asking questions and opinions from the students on a fairly consistent basis, just like a normal class.

3) My opponents' next argument was on the cost of tablets. Normally, a school which has decided to integrate technology into their curriculum will have the necessary budget beforehand. It's not like that suddenly decided "Hey, let's buy gadgets for the students tomorrow." No, no. It's all already organised before the school year actually rolls in.

In fact, my opponent has already agreed that most students already have gadgets anyway. The school just gives permission for the students to actually bring the gadgets they already have.

4) My opponents' final argument was pretty much a repetition on the subject of monitoring student activity. I am afraid however that under his logic, we might as well ban school computer labs, or the television room most schools have simply because some students can abuse it.

Why stop there? If possible, we should all the government to censor each and every television programme, website, games and every thing else that children are consuming. With all the programmes on the media which can be interpreted as pornography, violence and basically a time-waste and distraction to our children, we should also put our efforts into these things as well.

After all, students only spend a fraction of their lives in the classroom, after which they go home, they go to the cinemas, hang out at the playground, etc. I wonder how many other things are draining their attention?

As you can see, this seems ridiculous but under my opponent's logic, this is what he should agree to.

It is just not possible to be 100% thorough on what students are up to. But removing a vital tool to boost the understanding and interaction of students in potentially very boring subjects just because they are going to do something else (which they already are anyway) is just not the way I think we should deal with this issue.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by gwarrenster 12 months ago
gwarrenster
NDECD1441, please reread the initial statement. The level and types of technology (because even a chalkboard can be considered technology of a kind) is being debated, not whether any technology should be in the classroom. Thank you for your comment.
Posted by NDECD1441 12 months ago
NDECD1441
So are you saying there should be no technology at all?
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