Point: Does the school allocate too many resources for technology?

Rachel Kogan, Assistant Opinions Editor, Staff Assistant

A student flips back and forth between his Facebook newsfeed and the blank Microsoft Word Document that he needs to fill before his creative writing class in an hour.  Suddenly, his chemistry teacher calls on him to answer a question.  He responds with a blank stare before returning to his lack of productivity.

With so many new devices and gadgets constantly entering the market, administrators and members of the Board of Education (BOE) may feel that Schreiber is not keeping up-to-date with the technological advances.  Although it is commendable that the district intends to improve the school, one small factor is being overlooked—is the technology necessary?

At a BOE meeting this past December, Director of Technology Mr. Ryan Meloni presented a new plan of increasing the amount of technology in classrooms.  Mr. Meloni advocated for the institution of interactive whiteboards (SmartBoards) and mobile presenters in every classroom in order to “support the delivery of content that will meet all learning styles through the differentiation of instruction.”  Yes, it is a good idea for the Board of Education to work towards improving the efficiency and education of students.  However, increasing the presence of technology in classrooms may not be the road to a better education.

This year, Schreiber has brought a new form of technology into its classrooms: the Chromebook.  Some classes have never received the opportunity to use the laptops while others integrated it into their in-class assignments.

“There is a new form of assessment called the PARCC assessment that is going to be implemented within the next few years,” said Principal Mr. Ira Pernick. “The New York State idea is for these assessments to be taken online. There is a state mandate for all school districts throughout New York State to have enough computers available and be prepared to support the online testing.”

Questions arise not regarding the district and administration’s focus on integrating and increasing the presence of technology to support this requirement, but regarding the need for technology in classroom in general.  The traditional classroom with students learning directly from the teacher usually through listening, asking questions, and taking notes has existed for centuries.

It is safe to say that for the most part, student learning has not been hindered by the lack of technology during this time.

It is clear that students learn the material well in this environment and also learn important skills for social interaction.

If students are focusing all of their attention on the new and exciting technology in the room, they are missing out on learning how to get along with others and how to develop and build relationships with their peers.

“Some of my most memorable classroom experiences have been discussion-based,” said senior Nicole Boyd.  “I always enjoy discussing and learning from my peers rather than listening to lectures or reading from textbooks.  But as new technology such as Chromebooks have been introduced in the school community, this kind of collaboration has given way to isolation.”

As was stated in the Medill Reports, a study by researcher Anne Mangen, of the University of Stavanger in Norway, and Jean-Luc Velay, a French neuroscientist shows that the “physical act of holding a pencil and shaping letters sends feedback signals to the brain.

This leaves a ‘motor memory,’ which later makes it easier to recall the information connected with the movement.”  Simply put, handwriting equals better learning.

If handwriting has been scientifically proven to aid in learning, it seems counterintuitive for not just the school but also New York State to increase the presence of technology in learning environments.

Many students agree that the existence of the technology hurts their ability to focus on schoolwork effectively.

“The Chromebooks can’t do anything that my teacher can’t do,” said junior Paige Torres.  “It may be faster to type for some students, but for others (like me) it can be distracting and harder to write.  I personally have always felt more comfortable handwriting as well.  Sometimes technology is just not necessary.”

Increasing the technology in classrooms may seem like a good idea to schools across the nation.
But the emphasis on reforming the education system simply because new technology is appearing on the market seems unnecessary.

The present classroom setting is more than adequate at teaching students information that they would need in college and later on in life.