Tech in Schools
Every single time that a student talks to a teacher about technology, it amazes me how the teacher has no idea about what the students it talking about. And this is not a joke. The worst part is that it does not go for only one or two teachers; this goes for the majority of the teachers. I would say that about ninety percent of most international schools have teachers that are “obsolete”. It’s true. Most of the teachers are of the age of sixty and they don’t even know how to use an iPhone!
My father who doesn’t know a lot of things about how to use a computer, he knows how to use an iPhone, and an iPad. He even knows how to convert the music from a cd to an m4a file. He knows how to copy files into his dropbox folder. Most teachers don’t even know what dropbox is. It’s really sad.
My I.T. teacher doesn’t even know what a motherboard is; she still sends e-mails using attachments and she still uses Microsoft PowerPoint. She has no idea what GoogleDocs is, and she doesn’t own a smartphone. (And she’s an I.T. teacher...)
In this essay, I will discuss why technology can help all students learn with better ways and why students don’t have to use the same materials that they used in the 1950’s.
If teachers stimulated curiosity, the students would want to learn, and this can be done with technology. Let’s be realistic, teachers simply don’t like change, and I understand that; but change has to occur, and the day that technology revolutionizes learning and teaching has come.
We live in a world where almost every student has a smartphone, a laptop and some of them even have a tablet. Therefore students cannot simply give up on technology when they go to school and use plain old books. It just doesn’t make sense. There are about a million apps out there there that can help students learn quicker and better, and not only that, there are apps that act as book-cases where you can download text books and you can use your iPad as a portable bookcase every single school day. That makes your schoolbag much lighter because you only need to carry an iPad instead of five textbooks which get dog-eared, cuffed up and basically ruined after a couple of years of use.
Tablets have better portability, durability, they are much more interactive, they are searchable, current and they do have great content. And I think that the most important point is how current the content of tablets is.
Recently I saw a couple of screenshot’s of Windows XP and PDA’s (yes that’s right, not tablets; PDA’s) in my I.T. textbook. I think that the world can do better because I bet you that most people in my class haven’t even used a PDA in their life. And that’s normal, because PDA’s are not only outdated, but almost archaic. And what also amazes me is that we are still using windows XP in single cored computers. If you think about it, Windows XP has been around for more than ten years and single core computers are practically useless; my smartphone has more cores than those computers. So without good practice, schools end up with Internet Explorer 6 for almost damn near a decade.
Recently the United Nations claimed that the Internet is a human right, and this is very true, but unfortunately school systems don’t understand that. I once tried to download a book using my school’s Wi-Fi and it never finished downloading because it was so slow that it couldn’t even make it to fifty percent. And I don’t blame the school or the teachers; I blame the system. But that can change. Teachers need to adapt to the future and they need to understand that the Internet is not only used for “Facebook-ing” and “Playing games”; both of these are very common phrases that teachers enjoy to use.
It makes me angry whenever I bring my laptop to school because there is always a teacher who tells me to “Shut it down” whenever she stops writing on the Smart-Board. That is just unacceptable because her excuse always is that we play games. This is just stupid because students that are almost eighteen years old do understand that they cannot afford to play games especially in this day and age that the Asians are just taking places in the top universities by the dozen. So teachers need to learn about technology, but they also need to learn how to communicate with the students. Because communication, is key to success.
I also believe that smartphones are also very important in the education field because they are not just “Smart-Phones”, they are more of a gateway to the world. When I say “Gateway to the world” I mean that because of the internet and social media, you can just hop on to Twitter, Google+, Wikipedia and other useful sites, you can find what you are looking for only in a matter of seconds. If you would go about doing that with books, it would take you hours and hours of hard work and research. You can also take quick notes with apps on your tablet or smartphone without using a pen, or a notebook.
Teachers cannot understand the educational power of a smartphone a tablet or a laptop! Whenever you take out your smartphone to search something online, the teacher usually “confiscates” the phone until the end of the day. And the worst part is, that he/she won’t even let you explain the reason that you were using it. The teacher’s un-tech related mind just concluded that you were “texting” to your friend.
But unfortunately it’s not just the teachers and the schools fault; it’s also the students fault. The majority of the students are not that tech related. I mean, they do know how to use a laptop and a smartphone but they don’t really know how to use the machine the way that it was meant to be used. Those people are known as the “Normies’; the ninety nine percent. If you are reading this article you are probably not a “Normie”, but you have defiantly met one in your life. Those kinds of people are the ones that get meltdowns when you move one icon in their iPhone.
Therefore, most students don’t really know the ways that technology can help them develop their brain. And that’s the reason that they sometimes “look down at you” for what kind of smartphone, tablet or computer you are using. I think that that is completely wrong because they sometimes call you a “fanboy” and they say that you are “biased” which doesn't make sense because what they are doing is projecting their own biases to you.
We need to cooperate, not to compete! From the students point of view, there are the “Windows, gaming fans” and the “Apple Fanboys”. This is, as I said, wrong. I have a mac, but I also have a PC. They are both great machines that have good and bad things on each side. This doesn’t mean that the users need to “fight” each other. The students/users shouldn’t care about what tablet or laptop the fellow student uses; they should care if they are happy with their own choice.
Did you know that the iPad is the average teen’s number one item in their wish list? Yes, it’s true! And that’s great, because that means that students can now download the amazing apps that I talked about before which can help them to learn and develop their brain faster and better that using plain o’l text books. That means that if every student had an iPad, the teacher would be able to teach the students much faster!
To conclude, I would like to say that we can all have a better learning experience with technology and the time that it revolutionizes education and learning has come. As Apple would have said: “Think Different”
By Robert L. Van Gilder