“Classroom Techies” is no longer a youth subculture

February 20, 2010 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Recently, my sociology professor at my college informed us that we had an essay to write on one of three topics. The topics varied from ancestral immigration, assimilation, and “the new technology”. This class is one of the few that “new technology” is not permitted as a study tool. The essential reasoning is based on “studies” that did not identify Generation Y or Z’s  true connection with technology. For even my age group, we’ve grown up studying using pen and paper for about 13 years; todays pre-schoolers, elementary school kids, and early secondary (middle school) students will have an even stronger operant-developed connection with IT. For adolescents already, cell phones, laptops, and mP3 devices are an extra appendage; it’s not glued to us, it’s built-in. In my essay, I argue the academic benefits of accepting the new technology into classrooms; mainly for the advantages it presents to students with learning disorders/disabilties.

I call it Equalitech.

Youth as an extended period of transition

The New Technology

Genevieve L’Esperance

Dawson College

Individual and Society

A recently popular and controversial topic is the use of laptops in the classroom. The benefits of using a laptop in class include the facility with which to take down teacher’s notes, and the ability to do so far more quickly; to further research topics being discussed while in class; and thus the increasingly available time to focus on the teacher and better comprehending the materials presented.  However, it could be said that written notes may take longer but the material is more likely to be absorbed; that personal interests could also be pursued during class discussions; and that students should abbreviate and shorten their class notes. While those are good points, from personal experience, my generation has come to master technology, as almost a physical appendage, that unlike previous generations which bonded them to learning through “pen to paper”, will come to eventually coin us as the “fingers to keys” generation and we do so not only with blinding speed and agility but with the added advantage that we no longer need to ever look down to keep up. While some students may surf the net, and chat on MSN or Facebook, I am confident in the number of dedicated students who truly wish to use their laptops in class for academic purposes solely. For instance, in my Western Civilization class I frequently research different generals, kings, maps, and historical background information to know more than just the material we have the time to cover in a semester.  In doing so I reinforce the material at the time it is being presented.  Studies have shown that viewing multiple formats of a topic or lesson ensures better absorption. Also, taking class notes in Word is simple: especially considering how accustomed today’s adolescents and young adults are at typing up essays or typing up handwritten notes for cleanliness and organization. While doing the latter could be argued as reinforcing the material learned, I think that it is inherently a weak argument because taking only one person’s viewpoint or presented material on a specific topic is not “educational”. In fact learning to do further research on one’s own with the time saved using a laptop is critical to preparing for university where you will no longer spoon fed what you will need to make valuable dissertations of your own. In fact I will argue that allowing this free flow combination of a teacher’s presentation and a “segway” to the online world makes for a better educated and more independent formulation of thoughtful rhetoric in class.

 To further this point, writing down notes can be tricky if much of the material is verbally taught: some speak quickly and the human mind can only retain so much in short-term memory with an average of only 7-9 words for a maximum of 30 seconds.  Additionally writing requires you’re constant visual surveillance.

The greatest benefit of technology is only beginning to be realized with learning disabled students. From dyslexia to the blind and even more so now the hearing disabled, technology provides a more level playing field from which truly bright minds are now given the equal opportunity to excel. 

Since typing is profoundly more efficient, more  information can be collected, and not only will there be more, it will be neat and understandable when you look back on it the next day and however long you have it saved to your hard drive. When it comes time to study for your exam, the ability to look back on these notes and their organization is comforting – leading to a better study session. When you aren’t stressed out about messy work, the decreased time it will take to clean up before actually reviewing it, and that you have a near-never-ending amount of room to add extra pointers or acronyms for facilitated studying should result in higher grades.

From an environmental impact, laptops prevent a sudden panic from running out of loose-leaf paper, additionally preventing the disturbance of a peer for more paper and the loss of yet another tree.

The sociological perspective concerning new technology is broad, but fairly simple. To advance our society we must change individual perspectives on technology since it is now intertwined in our everyday lives.

  A female character in a recent movie release, still searching for companionship, believes that to make herself more attractive she doesn’t seek a new haircut, but rather, changes her MySpace picture. This concerns many because it implies we are losing physical touch with others and that we are relegating our self-worth to an html page; but on a much larger scale we are facilitating and increasing multiple opportunities for personal contact with relatives and/or loved ones at great distance from ourselves. Through Skype, my friends, who are presently in long-distance relationships, use this as an important communication platform, and is free for them to communicate orally and see each other via webcam.

 Finally technology and society are directly impacting our personal identity. Adolescents seek out others with similar interests on Facebook, and become acquainted, never having met them in person. While you’re “page” is supposed to clearly identify your interests; desires; activities, both past and present and your mentality, there are concerns about sincerity and truthfulness. With caution, these social networks can be good outlets for political, social, and environmental activism.  While there are many opportunities for social good and justice, there are just as many chances to fall prey to consumerism and unfortunately deprave individuals. Online shopping and gaming are two popular activities easily accessed via web that are at the center of much controversy. Nevertheless, moderation is key in all of life’s facets and that today’s technology does positively affect student academics and society seems evident, but its impact on my generation’s mentality and sociological beliefs has yet to be truly measured. My bet is on the positive.

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Entry filed under: Society in Transition.

What`s the NeXtbook? Brainy Barbie

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