If you google the word “school” and look through the pictures, they’ll tell us much about modern class settings. For example, such elements as chalkboards and textbooks were replaced by interactive learning gadgets in most schools worldwide. The philosophy of a “smart classroom” became widely accepted. And today, it’s quite common to see hi-tech devices throughout the school.
Today, technological progress influences education and pushes the boundaries capturing more educational establishments. And the use of gadgets during class hours is not a novelty.
Now, teachers share assignments through Google Drive and upload lectures to Google Classroom. And finding students googling quick answers or searching videos on YouTube to learn complex material is a usual part of classes.
But does it bring any good for learning? Why do some teachers and parents support banning gadgets while studying?
Going forward, the topic is quite controversial. But reading the facts and pros & cons provided below will help you to form an opinion.
What Technological Development Has Presented to Us: Types of Gadgets
What are the devices people imagine when hearing the word “gadget”? Just some of the most popular — smartphones, laptops, and tabs.
At the same time, they’re the basic teaching and learning tools. Using them, students and teachers create, keep, and share:
- PowerPoint presentations
- Homework assignments
- Useful literature & sources
Also, gadgets serve as communication platforms. Let us just list some convenient apps and services for such purposes — Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
And, of course, gadgets allow people to access the Internet — the greatest source of information.
However, the technological possibilities in schools are not limited to the gadgets we mentioned above. There’s an abundance of them — of all types, sizes, and demands. For example, modern students and teachers also use:
- Bluetooth speakers
- VR headset
- 3D Printers
- Smart Tables
- Digital Papers
- The 3Doodlers, etc.
Why We Can’t Learn Without Gadgets Anymore
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a real revolution in education. Nowadays, teleconferencing, online lectures, the learning of materials from gadgets, online tests, and even online exams and graduations are everyday activities.
Schools and university administrations set up accounts on online platforms to offer courses, hold videoconferences, organize curriculum, and create engaging educational communities.
In 2019, we couldn’t even imagine we will experience such drastic changes the learning in 2020.
According to UNESCO, more than 1 billion students globally were affected by school closures. Remote learning became the main mode not only for those who practiced homeschooling.
And after the pandemic, the educational process will never be the same. It will inherit e-learning flexibility. Although the classes are unlikely to take place over online educational platforms completely, the current learning mode will be implemented, continued, and advanced on a large scale.
This way, future hybrid education will keep some methods and achievements of distance learning and reinforce active use of gadgets. The current schooling is impossible without gadgets, so they will always be a significant part of the process. It is irreversible.
But does it contribute to learning? Should gadgets be allowed during class hours further?
Let’s figure it out!
Using Gadgets During Classes: 7 Downsides
The statement that the extensive usage of gadgets brings only benefits is not quite correct. There are some significant negative sides. They can affect children’s physical and mental health, academic performance, socialization process, and safety.
All of them lead to the conclusion that gadgets’ implementation must be limited and focused on the primary purpose.
So, what are the downsides of gadget use?
It’s obvious that frequent chatting, playing video games, and interaction with smartphones in general lead to the lack of face-to-face social interaction. When everything is done through a gadget, students limit communication with classmates in real life. Social interaction between them is reduced to class hours.
Unfortunately, it’s a fact. For the modern generations, asking Google how to write a Literature essay is easier than asking their peers. Today’s students became extremely dependent on gadgets.
And if students interact with peers, it’s more preferable for them to do it via messengers. Now, students prefer to make friends on Facebook rather than in real life. They even start virtual dates.
As a result, students have become more involved with gadgets and virtual communication. That may have a long-term impact on all aspects of their future life: college admissions, employment, building relationships, traveling, etc.
Students are addicted to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Likee are standard elements of the popular apps pack. And sticking into them to like photos or find proper emoji for comment during classes is a common problem.
Moreover, many students rely on technology so much that they get out of control and become easily irritable or even aggressive when they can’t or are not allowed to use gadgets.
Obviously, students easily get distracted by their gadgets when:
- Playing video games
- Scrolling photos
- Making photos
- Watching videos…
When they do it instead of learning and focusing on lectures, that doesn’t contribute to the studying process. Children miss vital information. Then, for many of them, it’s hard to catch up with the class.
Will that enhance their academic performance? Surely, no. That’s why the teachers who support the anti-gadgets movement tell that distraction is a №1 reason for banning gadgets during class hours.
So, it’s evident that kids should be allowed to use gadgets in class only for academic purposes.
Typically, students don’t care about safety and security when they surf the web and install apps and other software on their phones and tablets. It is a serious problem because information leakage can make them victims of cyberattacks or fraud.
Also, kids can get access to information that can have a negative impact on their mental health whether in a class or at home. That’s why it’s critical to discuss the basics of appropriate online behavior and safe communication.
Lack of Tech Support
Technology needs solid support. And not every school can afford prompt and professional maintenance of electronic equipment.
Let’s imagine a quite real situation when a teacher plans a lesson completely relying on devices. And for some reason, everything goes wrong with them. They just won’t work.
The same applies to students’ personal use of gadgets for learning purposes. “It doesn’t work” issue can happen to anyone. And it can be a great obstacle to the education process.
Inequality and Discrimination
Yes, gadgets can lead to discrimination between students. Some of them have the newest and costlier ones, others — settle for less.
Many children from the first group tend to boast about it, pay more attention to smartphone functions than classes, and show off.
Besides, those who can’t afford the recently upgraded, more powerful devices may not have equal and adequate possibilities for studying.
It’s well-known that overuse of gadgets encourages a sedentary lifestyle and cause serious health problems:
- Neck and back pain
- Poor posture
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Weight gain and obesity
- Hand pain
- Sleep disorders, etc.
This list is far from being exhaustive.
Is Everything That Bad? No!
While there are many negative aspects of gadget usage during class hours, actually, the benefits are enormous!
Let’s name the most prominent ones.
Firstly, they are invaluable helpers for special-needs students. Such assistive technology is vital for people to learn, socialize, improve skills, communicate, and enjoy life.
Secondly, devices promote studying by engaging learners. Often, kids can learn even the most complex concepts and challenging subjects through gamification. Gadgets are all about interaction. And it’s up to a teacher to decide how to develop, organize, and present information in the most useful and fun way.
Thirdly, the learning experience itself became faster and more effective. We can now process, save, and transmit a larger amount of information. In fact, we have access to practically all data sources in the world. Besides, there are countless new learning methods, apps, services, add-ons to make education exciting and tailored to any person’s demands. Not to mention that there are limitless possibilities to create and apply the best learning practices.
Other advantages include:
- Possibility to explore the world outside the class
- Improved teaching
- Fast communication between students and professors
- Continuous and systematic studying
- Eco-friendly approach
- Enhanced collaboration
So, Should Gadgets Be Allowed During Class Hours?
Although the opponents of the gadgets in class have a point, it’s now impossible to get back to the past and cut ourselves off from the available possibilities. Technology is an essential part of education. So it’s not the best decision to completely ban gadgets in class or at home.
To make the most of the gadgets, we should learn how to use them for learning, take care of safety and proper behavior.
And the best way to prevent negative consequences is to apply them only for educational purposes during class hours.