Teaching with Technology in the Classroom: How Much Is Too Much?

1 min

AltSchool, a for-profit, tech-heavy academic program is shutting one location and shifting focus from expansion to sales reports BloombergTechnology.

The school, funded by Silicon Valley venture capital and with support from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, places heavy emphasis on technology in the classroom and was touted as a revolutionary project for the education world.

AltSchool is not the only advocate for more tech in education. Recent years have seen a sharp increase in education tech and increasing support for more technology in classrooms. Current trends include the use of VR technology, gamification of tasks, and even mobile device use. Increasingly, classrooms have interactive whiteboards, tablets, and computers available for both teacher and student use.

These trends make sense. Students tend to respond well to tech in classrooms and it probably helps many engage with curriculum they might otherwise not enjoy. After all, many of the best paying jobs are in tech, so it makes sense to train students to be proficient with technology.

"I kinda feel sad for the people in the past" gif-Teaching with technology

However, evidence exists that too much tech can be a negative factor in classrooms. One study suggests that students who use digital devices in class actually perform worse than others on exams.

Finland’s approach to education is distinctly low-tech, and the country’s educational system is often cited as the gold standard in modern educational methods. Even in Silicon Valley people are shunning the high-tech classroom.

Technology in classrooms can be a distraction – class can become about the tech, not the topic. Students may be more engaged in using a tablet or laptop, for whatever purpose, than exploring a lesson.

Tech in class is also hugely expensive. AltSchool charges $30,000 for tuition and is still struggling to turn a profit. Many top-tier universities charge less for tuition. Instead, couldn’t some of that money go to hiring new teachers and better compensating already stellar ones?

What do you think? Do you wish you had more tech in your class or are you a low-tech teacher? Tell us in the comments. 

author image_Adam HThis article was written by Adam Hatch – UC Berkeley graduate, son of a teacher, brother of a teacher, and a teacher himself.

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