Technology in Education
Students have grown up with digital technology and expect it to be their learning experience.
Proponents point out that educational technology offers the potential to engage students in more active learning, as evidenced in flipped classrooms. It can facilitate group collaboration and provide instant access to up-to-date resources.
Teachers and instructors can integrate online surveys, interactive case studies, and relevant videos to offer content tailored to different learning styles. Indeed, students with special needs frequently rely on assistive technology to communicate and access course materials. But there are downsides as well. For instance, technology can be a distraction. Some students tune out of lessons and spend time checking social media, playing games, or shopping online. One research study revealed that students who multitasked on laptops during class scored 11 percent lower on an exam that tested their knowledge of the lecture. Students who sat behind those multitaskers scored 17 percent lower.
In the fall of 2017, University of Michigan professor Susan Dynarski cited such research as one of the main reasons she bans electronics in her classes. More disturbingly, technology can pose a real threat to student privacy and security.
Collecting sensitive student data by education technology companies can lead to severe problems. In 2017, a group called Dark Overlord hacked into school district servers in several states and obtained access to students’ personal information, including counselor reports and medical records. The group used the data to threaten students and their families with physical violence. Laptops are commonplace in university classrooms. In light of cognitive psychology theory on costs associated with multitasking, we examined the effects of in-class laptop use on student learning in a simulated classroom. We found that participants who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture scored lower on a test compared to those who did not multitask, and participants who were in direct view of a multitasking peer scored lower on a test compared to those who were not. The results demonstrate that multitasking on a laptop significantly distraction users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content.