October 29


Human Memory vs. Technology in Education

By Sameer Bhatia

learning, memory

By Sameer Bhatia

There is no doubt that this generation of children is being exposed to more technology than ever before. Day-to-day life now involves some form of technology on a regular basis, and children are being exposed to this at very young ages.

Opinions on whether this is good for children are divided. Some say that too much use of technology and an over reliance on it from an early age can be detrimental to a child’s physical and mental health. However others say that technology is actually helping children improve their brain power. It’s still being hotly contested over whether video games improve mental health or damage it.

When it comes to discussions about the effects technology has on children, no area is more hotly debated than what goes on in the classroom. Lessons are becoming more internet or digitally-based, much to the consternation of people who feel the exposure to technology is harmful. A number of reports have tried to lay the issue to rest, but have been unsuccessful. It’s clear that lots of technological-based learning does have an effect on students, but it’s difficult to tell if the effect is detrimental.

  • Communication: As a result of technology now being used as a tool in the classroom, many teachers are creating online forums, blogs, and social networks where students can work together on projects and communicate with each other in general. Some think of this as being particularly useful, as it encourages students to discuss work with each other outside of the classroom. However, some experts have said that too much communicating through information technology can be harmful to a person’s brain. Social interactions can help improve brain power a lot, and reducing that to something far less intimate has been seen as something potentially damaging.
  • Work Preparation: Many people believe that because of the immersion with technology some students receive from an early age, it is paving the way for many careers in new media. Considering that a rapidly increasing number of jobs require employees to be very technology savvy, this can only be seen as a benefit. Many teachers have taken this into account, and think that if the use of technology gives their students a head start when it comes to starting their careers, then they are more inclined to use technology more.
  • A Learning Tool: Some critics believe that the technology in schools is being used incorrectly, thus having a detrimental effect on the students. Some believe that while technology can be used as a tool in teaching, it’s starting to replace the need for students to commit things to memory. If they can just save everything on a computer, then they don’t need to remember it. Other critics on the other hand say that it’s not an issue of technology being overused but being underused. Some say that new forms of technology are being purchased by schools almost out of pressure to keep up with updates, and some teachers have no idea how to use them. As a result, it’s been claimed that millions of dollars’ worth of technology is being wasted in classrooms.
  • Brain Development: It has been proven that using technology in education does have an effect on the way a child’s brain develops, but as of yet it hasn’t been proven to be harmful or advantageous. Altering the methods with which children learn depending on the times however is hardly a new thing. Computers were introduced into schools very soon after they became household products, and this was before they became an important part of most people’s day-to-day lives. Some critics say however that because the human memory is not being used often enough, then whatever is being presented to them through technological means has to be watered down in some way. In other words, they’re saying that no matter what is being presented to them it doesn’t do enough to tax the brains of the students.
  • Media Dependence: Many parents and indeed teachers will have seen the results when children become too media dependent. Some will have shortened attention spans, while others will need constant stimulation with technology, or develop some form of hyperactivity. All of these things naturally have a damaging effect on a child’s brain, hence the outrage from some critics that such a thing is actually being promoted in schools. Others however say that it is important for children to think in a more futuristic way. The main focus of education is to ensure that children are prepared enough to leave full time education and find employment easily. As far as most schools and teachers can tell, that is a massive benefit.

As of yet, there is no right or wrong answer regarding the exposure of technology on children. For the moment at least, the educators and policy makers think that using technology is a risk worth taking considering the rewards it could bring in terms of a student’s performance and learning ability.

About the author

Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs.com which is a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge. ProProfs Survey Software offers trainers and educators powerful-but-simple features without requiring users to download or learn expensive software. Sameer has a background in technology with a Masters in Computer Science from USC (University Of Southern California) and is an ed-tech industry veteran. You can find Sameer on Google+ and Twitter.

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