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The pros and cons of using digital technology for education

As time has progress, technology has increasingly progress as well. With this progression, technology has been used for various of purposes such as leisure, communication, and education. However, in terms of education, technology is a bliss and a curse. It may enable the teacher to teach a large class; however, the decreasing value of human contact in the teacher and student relationship may present troubling concerns.
There are several other reasons to support either side, but I want to hear from the TED community. How can technology support or obstruct the quality of education to the masses?

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    Gail . 50+

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    Aug 26 2012: A community in a neighboring state faced a budget cut so great that the district had to lay off 37% of the teachers. 4 years later, results are coming in. Graduation rates up 20%. Reading grades up to grade level. Math & science grades all up.

    Comments from teachers (on the news report). One said, it's fun to watch them learn and not know that they're learning. A reading teacher said that instead of an entire class having to wait for a turn to read out loud, which is very boring, that all are engaged in interactive reading at the same time. A student said that getting rid of the rows of desks and changing to small groups that could talk about what they were learning made learning much more fun. Tests show that they remember better this way.

    Kahn Academy has devised a system for teachers so that they can see who is working on what and who is struggling. It allows students to progress to the level of their abilities without waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. It allows teachers to help those who need help most while not slowing down the rest of the class.

    computers can provide IMMEDIATE rewards where school itself promises a reward in 15-20 years, which is a LONG time of waiting for the rest of the class to catch up with the quickest - thus harming the quickest and brightest.

    It doesn't work for all things. I needed a teacher to learn how to play the piano well. Dance also requires a human observer. Chem lab is a lab, so no computers there. But music and art in general can be taught on a computer.

    I hope these schools include software reminding the students to look around for a minute or so every 10 - 15 minutes.

    I love learning on-line, but I shut down in a classroom.
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      Aug 27 2012: I think public school should focus on social interactions. It should be like going to the movies with a bunch of friends kind of mentality. School should be a place to hangout with friends, while learning to cooperate and stuff.
    • Aug 27 2012: By the introduction of on-line education, are we limiting the social interactions of the children of tomorrow?
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        Aug 27 2012: Why can't play be part of an essential education? There is a lot to be learned from play.
        • Aug 27 2012: Play is too chaotic for educational purposes. It lacks a certain focus.
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        Gail . 50+

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        Aug 27 2012: Really? I grew up in a small city, at a time when kids were everywhere. I was part of what the USA calls the baby boomer generation. There were 50 kids on my block (of single family homes) alone. We had no computers and TV was so snowy and so uninteresting that it was rarely watched. We had no video games and there were no "malls". My family didn't even have a car.. But we all learned much through play. How sad for the youth of today if play is required to be so structured that all spontaneity and creativity is lost. I couldn't make a list long enough to include all that children can learn through play.

        What is social interaction if it is not part of play?
        • Aug 29 2012: It is not a direct teaching method. A random game does not necessary teach a lesson. Social interaction is student to teacher to peers relationship.
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        Aug 29 2012: Well, I guess I have more respect for students and less respect for teachers than you do. We must have had very different school experiences.
        • Aug 31 2012: The truth is teachers are far more reliable in teaching a subject than a student teaching a subject.
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        Aug 31 2012: It all depends on the student and the teacher and the subject matter.

        If a young child is afraid to expose his ignorance to the rest of the class, give that child a computer program that will teach him math and his self-esteem will visibly rise. If a child has low self-esteem and needs to earn the teacher's admiration, give that child a teacher. If some of the children need to be asked a question and find the answer among themselves, (perhaps the question is how do you multiply three columns of figures), asking anyone they want, and they will gain confidence in their ability to learn and will learn lessons about learning. Some children who are afraid of a teacher's report card or recognition of smallness (compared to the teacher) have no problem asking another adult or older child for help.

        These are only small examples for younger children, but I can say from experience that something in me dies in a classroom setting. Just tell me what you want me to learn about and tell me when to show up for the test. I'll ace it.
        • Sep 2 2012: A child is not a jig-saw puzzle; he or she is not just fitted into the education system as if it were that simple. The whole perspective lies within the children not the child. However, focusing on the children completely destroys the meaning of emotional connection between the teacher and the student. The educational system should value teaching a large class and the teacher and student relationship. Most people do not have the motivation you have for learning. Some people are just doom without the classroom setting in a sense of the motivational support.
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        Sep 2 2012: Kids ARE forced into molds by formal Ed.

        Studies show that learning has to be relevant to the child's immediate environment. Promising a job 10 or 15 years down the road doesn't work. Studies also show that children are naturally curious, and they do VERY well at learning when you take away the teacher and the classroom setting. Studies also show that $$$ is insufficient motivation when the most basic cognitive thinking skills are brought into play. Studies also show that education - as we apply it today - destroys intellectual curiosity and cognitive thinking skills. A study of what we teach, and what we refuse to teach, will show you how many lies are part of America's compulsory education. This leaves students ill-equipped to understand the world around them.

        Do you really mean to tell me that the child believes that the teacher REALLY cares about his long-term well-being? What relationship? I never had a teacher who was visibly interested in how I was personally doing a a few months after I left his/her class.

        I suggest rethinking education from the ground up - taking new research into consideration.

        Yup, I LOVE learning. But I was nearly destroyed by an educational system that devalues the student in order to elevate the teacher (& all authority figures) in name of $. I didn't discover the joy of learning until I was in my 30s, at which time my REAL education (the one without the lies) began. By then, I understood that teachers only know what they are taught, and in America, that's very limited.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LelNYqVEOZQ&list=PL89DA217D574A8362&index=8&feature=plpp_video
        http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html
        http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_education.html
        http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

        If I were the parent of a young child today, I would not allow him/her to be subjected to the oppressive tyranny of public education with its corrupt agenda
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    Aug 26 2012: I think digital technology has allowed us to rethink how education should be. With so many people saying, "If i can learn everything online for free and I learn more of it than in a classroom and I learn at my own pace where I don't need to go so fast or so slow, then why should I go to a public school anymore?"

    So how does/will digital education redefine traditional education?
    • Aug 27 2012: It as far more slow-pace than traditional education. The fear lies in the lack of motivation and framework.
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        Aug 27 2012: slow-paced in what way?

        and I'm not sure what you're referring to when you talk about lack of motivation and framework...
        • Aug 27 2012: The students is now introduce to a more flexible schedule, less-responsive environment, and the end-result creates a weak framework.
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        Aug 27 2012: So you're saying that because of the lack of constraints of such a flexible system, it would afford a lack of motivation for people to learn at a fast pace.

        However, if we have a system with too many constraints, it would hinder some people's learn at a faster pace, and that is also equally inefficient.

        The best system would need flexibility to address both the people who work at a slower pace and the people who work at a faster pace.
        • Aug 27 2012: Then, the real question is on how to create that system.
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        Aug 27 2012: And that's the question I've been thinking about a lot these past few months.
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    Aug 26 2012: Digital Technology pros:
    - Information accessibility
    - New ways to convey information (videos, animations, photos)
    - Do-it-yourself mentality due to that accessibility
    - Not limited to physical location
    - Open Forum nature, no longer liimited to group discussions, where not all voices and opinions on a matter can be heard in such a limited amount of time
    - Can teach content more cheaply to a much wider audience, not as limited to cross-country information travel.
    - Capable of collaborating with someone across the world

    Cons:
    - Lack of physical presence and physical environment means it's not as social on a physical level
    - Some messages get lost when you're pm'ing someone else as opposed to just talking with them 1-on-1 in real life.
    - With a large audience of thousands of people, a teacher is not as personal as he/she should be in a classroom of say 30 students.
  • Aug 26 2012: I honestly think people overrate technology in education way too much. You will not invent the wheel/education a second time through so called modern technology.

    Where is the big change or support technology provokes? At all, the only change is, that instead of multiple books just one "book/tablet/computer" is needed to carry around. And that it is easier to copy large ammounts of text, because you do not need to copy by your own hands.

    And teacher and student relationships, well, is there one? Means, is there one person in the world who has benefited from all his teachers? Or isn't it more like that, that only a few teachers are remembered as good, whilst the majority of teachers one had did cause even more trouble and harm in terms of education?

    I think there is neither a pro nor a con for the use of technology in schools/education. There is no big change coming, we neither get smarter, nor that we get dumber through technology.

    The question is, why is anyone hoping so much for a better education? If the education is a problem, then it will not change through new clothes we throw over it. A bus station connected to the net might look fancy, but you still gonna have to wait for the bus-funnily we had the same arguments in that field, like "will public transportation benefit from being connected to the internet?", because people/customers get realtime information about the location of their bus and can connect with the service? They still wait for the bus, the bus is still late, and so on.
    • Aug 26 2012: "I think there is neither a pro nor a con for the use of technology in schools/education. There is no big change coming, we neither get smarter, nor that we get dumber through technology."

      I disagree with said statement. Technology has a great impact on education through so many ways. Communication technologies enable the spread of education throughout the world. Moreover, as proven with IQ tests over the decades, we are becoming smarter over time. Everything has a both positive and negative value; so, technology usage in the educational system has both values.

      "And teacher and student relationships, well, is there one? Means, is there one person in the world who has benefited from all his teachers? Or isn't it more like that, that only a few teachers are remembered as good, whilst the majority of teachers one had did cause even more trouble and harm in terms of education?"

      Did you not have one teacher in your life that did not impact you at all? Are you seriously telling me that teachers do not benefit the students at all?
      • Aug 26 2012: "Communication technologies enable the spread of education throughout the world. "
        Right, but the problem about spreading something is the number of receivers. And the biggest problem still and ongoing is the high number of illiterate or half-illiterate people in the world. As much as i know, and i am sure i would have heard about, there is no new technology who makes people learn to read and write, nor learn it faster.

        "Moreover, as proven with IQ tests over the decades, we are becoming smarter over time. "
        Who is "we"? The worlds population? The "world" has an average IQ of round about 80, which is close to being a zombie.

        "Did you not have one teacher in your life that did not impact you at all?"
        I do not remember one, no.

        "Are you seriously telling me that teachers do not benefit the students at all?"
        Not at all, but at most.
        • Aug 27 2012: You do realize that if technology spreads the zone of learning, people can still learn. In matter of the fact, the more accessible technology is in a said region the less likely illiteracy would be in that particular part.

          I refuse to answer your second paragraph because if you do not think mankind, as a whole, had not increase in IQ over the years, you need to be reintroduced to the outside world.

          Okay, I did not realize this before, but I used a double negative. Did you not have one teacher in your life that impact you at all? I just wanted to make sure of your answer.

          Teachers benefit students. They provide the human contact, support emotional states, and define an educational framework. Teachers benefit students.
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      Aug 31 2012: (Quote): "I honestly think people overrate technology in education way too much. You will not invent the wheel/education a second time through so called modern technology."

      Then how do you explain the "technology" of the invention of the Printing Press that allowed the spread of learning through books? Are you saying education would have been better served if the Printing Press had never been invented? Agree, the Printing Press didn't re-invent the wheel, but it sure allowed more people access to learn about HOW it was invented instead of them having to wait for another human being to run into them and verbally tell them how it happened.

      Technology can enhance education in many ways. Let's not just discard all the posibilites because we haven't figured out the BEST ways to do it yet.