Tech in classrooms

Katie Miller
Staff Writer

Freshman computer science major Chandler Robinson’s chosen method of note-taking is his laptop, because he “can’t write as well or as fast” as he can type.

Robinson, from Birmingham, is an advocate for technology inside the classroom.

“I won’t have to handle a lot of papers that I’ll probably lose,” Robinson said, and he added that he is satisfied with the fact that all of his homework is online.

Robinson said he is able to stay focused with the task at hand when he is on his computer in the classroom.

McKinley Livingston, a sophomore nursing major from Decatur, is a supporter of technology in the classroom, as she is able to remain focused in class and use her laptop for classes that allow them.

Livingston said she believed that cellphones in class should not be as big an issue as people perceive them to be.

“I think that’s completely dependent upon the student,” she said. “I think it’s less harmful because I’ve been in classes before where teachers have cut the entire class short because one person was on their cellphone.”

When asked if he thought cellphones in the classroom were appropriate, Robinson said they could be helpful so long as there are guidelines.

“If you have to go to a site, you can to go to the site (with a cellphone),” he said.

In terms of using various social media such as Facebook and Twitter in the classroom, Robinson said, “I think we should give kids the benefit of the doubt.”

“I don’t think it should be as big of a deal as people are making it,” Livingston said.

Livingston said the use of technology that is not necessary within the classroom should be up to the user.

“If students are willing to be on their phones the entire class, it’s their grade, and it’s their problem,” Livingston said.

However, technology can be very useful as long as it is utilized the right way.

“I really appreciate the use of Moodle (an open-source education platform) and educational videos because I think that helps the student to remember more of what they’re learning because it’s in a different type of format; it’s something that’s going to stick out to them,” Livingston said.

Overall, a positive light was shed on the various uses of technology.

“In the long run, I think it’s more efficient whenever you’re mixing stuff in the classroom, and technology is one way that you can do that easily,” Livingston said.

Chanukah Anderson, coordinator for testing and assessment at Troy University, said she uses technology every day in her classroom.

“Blackboard is generally the platform that a number of instructors use,” Anderson said. “For me, it’s helpful for students to have access to their grades, class announcements, bonus opportunities or class assignments. It’s also important to reach students where they are — which in most cases is on their smartphones.”

However, according to Anderson, technology can serve as a distraction in class.

“Many students also rent their textbooks and have them in e-book format,” she said. “Having their device on hand is the equivalent to having their textbook.

“On the other hand, you find students who use their devices as a cover to check their Facebook, play games or do other things that aren’t related to the lecture. For those students, they ultimately hurt themselves because they aren’t actively engaged in the classroom and the information that’s being presented.”

As far as Troy University is concerned, the classrooms are kept up to date with the technology that is presented to the university.

“I started teaching back in 2008, and as new buildings have come to our campus, they are often upgraded with new technology that fits the classroom setting,” Anderson said.

Personally, I enjoy sticking to the traditional way of note-taking and use only my notebook. I can’t retain information unless I write it down myself.

However, typing on a laptop is much quicker and more efficient, and it’s fortunate that, for the most part, our professors allow us to use our various technological devices.

I think technology such as slideshow presentations and even the occasional use of Facebook and YouTube is convenient within the classroom. It is the students’ responsibility to complete their assignments to get the desired grade. If their personal devices serve as distractions, it is the students’ job to put the devices away for the sake of their grades.

I do recognize that a good majority of students prefer using technology as a means of communication as well as studying because it helps them learn more efficiently. The way our devices are being constantly upgraded, I’d say getting a handle on laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices is a smart decision.

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