Almost 2,400 years ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates, as recorded by his pupil Plato, came out against technology in the classroom. Writing, he said, was a terrible idea because it deprived the student of the ability to commit ideas to memory. That newfangled technology of stylus and wax tablet was a real drag on education. As Socrates put in in Phaedrus 274c: “You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” Today, there are still prophets of doom who argue that education suffers when students are allowed to use technology in the classroom.
However, technology is actually beneficial in education, particularly in higher education, where we find some of the most important advantages of using modern technology to enhance the art of learning.
Classroom Technology Today
In today’s college classroom, it is far from uncommon to find students typing notes on laptops or recording lectures on their smartphones. Indeed, many professors have tried to cut out the middleman by offering streaming video recordings of lectures and providing access to online versions of lecture notes so that students can focus their time in class on the lecture rather than the act of taking notes. Both methods of using modern technology have done wonders in terms of going above and beyond what the old pen and notebook method could achieve.
“I couldn’t imagine taking notes with a pen and paper,” one freshman said recently. “It would take me forever to write out by hand all those notes, and I can’t really even read my writing anyway.”
The modern classroom, however, has advantages that go beyond a simple switch from pen to keyboard. Many college classrooms use clicker devices to record student reactions to course content in real time. What’s interesting about this is that the students get to share their opinion but can do so in a way that eliminates the feelings of embarrassment and shame that often accompany asking a question. A student can quickly and anonymously indicate that the material is confusing or that the professor needs to explain it better, and the professor will be notified without the need for a brave student to try to stand up in front of his or her peers and admit ignorance. This increases students’ academic achievement overall by getting them greater help with less effort and less fear.
Immersive Technology Experiences
Technology also helps to make higher education a more immersive experience. The use of audio and video in the classroom enhances lectures and can bring in illustrations and primary source materials that were previously too complex or difficult to present in the classroom. Additionally, the use of online library access has made it easy for students to access the latest scholarly research on subjects, making the research process so much easier than it has ever been. In some cases, virtual reality technology is also helping students to perform lab work virtually. For example, students who object to dissecting animal bodies can now perform virtual dissections with realistic digital models, helping students to achieve their course objectives without compromising their values and integrity.
At the same time, we all know that classroom technology has its downsides. Students who use laptops or smartphones in the classroom are more likely to get distracted and to use their devices to access the internet for purposes other than engaging with course content. Additionally, there can be a tendency for instructors to rely on technology as a crutch to avoid the need for rich and engaging lecture content. In these cases, the technology can distract from the overall learning experience.
On the whole, however, technology has improved the higher education experience, and it is difficult to imagine a classroom today where every form of technology would be unwelcome.
About author: This short essay about Technology in Higher Education is written by John T., freelance academic expert, hired by CheapWritingHelp.com professional essay service with affordable prices and highly qualified writers.