OP-ED: Respect the Tech, Respect It

Nevan Malwana, Sophomore, Staff Reporter

Throughout the halls and classrooms of PMHS, the influence of technology is blatant and dominates nearly all aspects of education. Technology has opened more and more doors for students to have expedient, reliable information at their fingertips. The most obvious example of this? Chromebooks. However, these machines raise the age-old debate as to whether technology does more harm than good to students. As frustrating as lost internet connections, Chromebook batteries that don’t hold a charge, and limited access to websites for research can be, when studied through a closer lens, technology has undoubtedly helped students further their academic pursuits.

The practicality of Chromebooks over print resources cannot be minimized. Chromebooks are able to increase the rate that students grasp material faster than any print resource. According to the U.S. Department of Education, using technology helps students reach a learning goal 30 to 80 percent faster than conventional textbooks.

One quality of Chromebooks many overlook is that they are lighter than most textbooks. Even Chromebooks on the heavier end weigh around three pounds. In comparison, textbooks can weigh anywhere from three to five-and-a-half pounds! According to the American Chiropractic Association, it is safe for a student to carry no more than 15 percent of their body weight in his/her bag. Unfortunately, for nearly all grades K-12, the combined weight of textbooks that must be carried exceed that threshold. In the 2011-12 school year, 14,000 kids aged 5-18 were treated for various backpack-related injuries. Close to 5,000 of those injuries led to visits to the emergency room. In 2016, the number plummeted 54 percent, due to more and more schools switching to technology such as tablets and laptops rather than using textbooks.

Using electronic resources can also save schools a vast amount of money in the long run. Compared to using paper for every single quiz, test, or homework assignment, it is both economical and ecological to have a one-time purchase of a Chromebook or tablet, and store all resources electronically. According to edutopia.com, a school of around 1,000 students spends upward of 3,500 dollars on paper, ink, and toner. This doesn’t even include potential technical repair costs for a printer. Schools can additionally save money on resources such as folders and writing utensils when documents which are needed by students are stored online, and students need not write down their work by hand when they can type it on their laptops. Tablets and laptops also save schools money by replacing the cyclic buying of expensive textbooks. When the information within electronics becomes outdated, they can update the associated electronic app or program.

Technology, especially laptops, can take the quality of student learning to a level textbooks cannot reach. By way of illustration, an average English assignment may comprise of reading a chapter and writing a list of words from said chapter that one does not understand. With print resources, the student would first have to read the chapter, write down the words on a sheet of paper, get a dictionary to look up the words, and still have to write down the definitions. A Chromebook allows for all those steps to be done simultaneously. Many important resources such as a dictionary and thesaurus come built into many laptops and tablets that make the process of doing homework more efficient. Chromebooks bring into play the use of aids including videos, interactive charts, and graphs, while textbooks are limited to pictures and two-dimensional resources. These visual aids can stimulate students to learn content, and engage students in a way textbooks cannot. Another benefit of Chromebooks is that they evaporate the pressure of having to remember to bring in assignments, due to resources such as Google Drive which automatically save one’s work. No longer will the feeling of emptiness plague students as they leave their homework hopelessly on the kitchen table.

As the world continues to progress further into the 21st century, technology’s influence continues to grow. It goes without saying, our schools should place students in the best position to go out and thrive in the world, and modernizing student learning with technology is undoubtedly the first step. As the dependency of print resources in jobs decreases, schools should be looking to leave outdated resources, such as textbooks, in the past, and give students a more efficient, engaging, and enriching education through technology.