Technology: Efficient, Effective, and Exciting… Or None of the Above?

Technology: Efficient, Effective, and Exciting... Or None of the Above?

How does this work? How am I supposed to know how to do this? This is so convenient. I wish we had this when I was young. This makes everything so much easier.

Technology: a beautiful and ugly “thing” that we all both love and hate. Half a century ago no one could have guessed how colossal the development of technology was going to be. The first laptop computer was released by The Osborne Computer Corporation in 1981. The first tablet was released by Apple in 2010; and the first smartphone was technically released by IBM in 1992.  Fast forward to the present day, and here we are choosing from what seems like hundreds of laptops made in all shapes and sizes from dozens and dozens of companies. The impact of these technologies has not just been seen in the business world or in homes, but it has found its way into schools across the country including Holy Family Catholic High School. With a development so immense, it can be hard to stop yourself and ask, how beneficial is this technology in Holy Family, and does this technology have a positive effect on learning and the education process? It is easy to respond with a quick “yes”, but the questions deserve some thought.  After all, parents are putting great trust and investing money in this school’s education, and students put in a lot of time and effort. After conducting a poll of students and teachers to ponder deeper into technology’s effectiveness in the classroom, there was one clear consensus: Holy Family’s use of technology checks all the boxes for beneficial learning.

Physics teacher Dr. Tisel gave me his thoughts on technology and how they apply to his physics classes. After thoroughly examining my questions, he decided that yes technology is not only beneficial, but it is crucial in order for students to learn what is necessary. He explained that “technology is an important part of the discipline of physics. It’s use helps us to see things that would be difficult, or impossible, to see otherwise”. He also makes it clear that the teachers in Holy Family are all professionals and that “when technology is used in a lesson, it is because it has intentionally been selected by the teacher as a valuable way to learn the material.”

Spanish teacher Mrs. Kidrowski shared some of the concerns that I had brought to mind. She explained that yes technology is useful, however, only if it is doing what the teacher intends it to do. She walked me through her criteria of using technology in her classroom: “It has to have a meaningful purpose and if a learning objective doesn’t need it, then there is no purpose”. This is a guide that teachers across the country should use in order to maintain the effectiveness of technology. Overall, the teachers conveyed a cautiously optimistic vibe with a great emphasis on the proper use of technology in their classroom. It was made clear that in order to be efficient and effective most teachers create a method that works for them to determine when to use what equipment and method.

But who are teachers to say whether their teaching techniques are effective or not? Why not ask the real judges, the real critics: the students. Have no fear teachers because the you must be doing something right. Following discussion with several senior students at Holy Family, it was made apparent that students feel that the technology being used in class has aided in their learning and made his or her education process easier and more productive when used properly. Lecture after lecture can get quite boring in a seven-class day, so senior Matt Deaven explained that he “[likes] that technology provides a lot of variety in the classroom and it allows us to learn and study in a multitude of ways”. The only concern that Matt had had nothing to do with the teachers use of technology, but rather how the students use it. He explained that technology can be “incredibly distracting”, but at the end of the day he felt strongly about the positive aspects that it brings. An example of technology that is highly utilized is the school website. All students have a “My school” account where he or she can access grades, view homework assignments, and take quizzes and tests. Every student at Holy Family can attest that the website is used on a daily basis. Anna Vakulskas shared her feelings about the school website when she explained that “it’s beneficial because it allows students to stay organized easier without extra papers floating around”. High school is a time of high stress with busy schedules. It is often hard to stay organized, so having a tool that can partially do that for you is essential to having a successful four years.

The effective presence of technology in classrooms at Holy Family is not a quick “yes”… it is a well thought out, enthusiastic, and confident “yes”. However, in order to avoid subconsciously going through the motions of following the crowd, it is important to continue to ask these questions as time goes on and the evolution of technology continues. Technology is so integrated into the daily lives of people across the globe that after talking with students and teachers it makes me stop and ask myself a new question: what would school and learning be like without technology?