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Discuss the notion that technology is detrimental to education

Q : Discuss T :
technology – consider equipment, computer, media & communications technology
education – functions of education :
 holistic personal growth (ability to learn, socialise, acquire good health, fulfil potential and nurture talents/strengths etc.)
 the development of skills (esp.for future challenges or to meet the country’s needs)
 nurturing of values etc.
K : detrimental : harmful or disadvantageous, but in what way ? To whom ? From whose point of view ?

Yes, it is detrimental :
1. [Detrimental to learning, in general & literacy, in particular]
Exposure to computer games, short video clips online etc.
 loss of concentration or inability to focus because the learner has become accustomed to flashing images, or hands-on, ‘clickable’ activities , and gets easily distracted
 inability to process information or lengthy arguments in static text. This is a serious concern because the ability to analyse texts is a requisite in higher levels of education

 Laziness could become a major problem for students who become demoralised by their inability to focus. This laziness can be compounded by the ease with which information (even whole answers) can be taken off the Web without much effort or thinking on the part of the student. Plagiarism is one concern. The other arises from abundance of commercial services that offer to provide the answers for a price. The primary aim of education is lost.

 Another scenario is the “cut-and-paste” job that has become a bad habit among lazy students. Admittedly, this is an opportunity to develop critical thinking and media literacy skills, but once laziness has set in, the more likely outcome would be a poorly-done assignment using a mish-mash of lifted information that has not been carefully applied to the question assigned.

The nature of online communication and short message services (SMS) hampers linguistic development if the learner is not adept at code-switching from formal to informal settings

2. [Technology can undermine other efforts in education]
Moral education or the nurturing of other values (such as patriotism). This is because the layman who is exposed to an almost unrestricted internet will be given an impression that certain behaviours or beliefs that run counter to the morals taught at home or school or by the government are acceptable. Quick transmission of information via mobile devices like smartphones magnifies the situation further.
E.g. Promiscuity has been sensationalised and normalised online. There have been reports that young people in Singapore have picked up certain trends including recording themselves in compromising situations just to get attention.
Traditional sources of learning and education are no longer in control of people’s understanding of right and wrong. Instead they have to join the bandwagon and use technology to compete with alternative views.

No, it is NOT detrimental :
1.[Technology aids learning & research]
 mass education
Governments especially have become more adept at applying media and communications technology to reach out to the masses for the purpose of public education and campaigns.
E.g. NEmation competition for schools in Singapore kills two birds with one stone :
It gets students to develop technology skills to produce captivating short animation pieces that are televised and posted online on youtube, thus getting first-hand authentic experience on professional IT and media work. At the same time, the finished works are themselves vehicles to educate the public on National Education issues such as love for country, service, harmony and preparedness.

 going beyond the classroom :
– The internet encourages independent learning beyond the textbook because it presents a wealth of information on multitudinous topics. For instance, more can be learnt about foreign countries and communities without the need to travel.
– Granted, students still need to be equipped with the skills to critically evaluate material for authenticity, validity or soundness, but once they are equipped, they would be better able to sieve through the deluge of content online.
– In any case, because of the need to train students in media literacy, educators need not be threatened that the internet has made them redundant. They are now needed as guides to develop higher order thinking in students for this knowledge age rather than being merely information dispensers.
– The internet is an alternative setting for learning. Schools can put up e-learning activities that can be conducted even when schools are closed such as during emergencies such as disease outbreaks when many people get quarantined.
– Learners or all ages and backgrounds need not necessarily enrol in any formal institution in order to learn.

 multiple intelligences
Howard Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences can be put to more effective use because technology can build a more multiple-sensory classroom to get the best out of students with different natural inclinations and abilities
E.g. Visual learners need visual stimuli like videos and pictures to better retain and auditory learners prefer to listen with care while kinaesthetic learners need more hands-on activities. A computer-based lesson would help create an environment suitable for a mixed of students.

 helping learners with disabilities
Technology aids these learners in many ways and many new tools have been developed over the years to meet the needs of learners with very varied medical conditions
E.g. hearing aids for the deaf, reading material printed in Braille or software that converts text to sound for the blind

 for research and experimentation
Deeper studies especially on science has benefitted tremendously from technology. The continued development of medical knowledge or engineering would not be possible without technology. Even in school, technology such as tools in the science lab or visual or three-dimensional simulations help students make meaning of what they learn in theory.
E.g. Training for drivers, pilots and surgeons can now be enhanced using virtual simulation.
E.g. The advanced statistical analysis that is carried out today is virtually impossible without computers


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