The Slippery Slope of Technology and Learning

Last week I logged into Twitter and saw the advertisement shown above. Normally I  don’t pay attention to advertisements, but this one caught my eye. The advertisement seems harmless enough. Google is advertising Google Assistant by demonstrating how it can close a garage door or turn off a light and the advertisement invites us to see what else Google Assistant can do. While I have only been in the classroom since 2010, first as a student teacher and now with my own classroom I have noticed some startling changes.

When I was in high school we used the internet occasionally but research was done in the library, we checked our grades when the teacher posted them on the door and technology wasn’t ingrained into our everyday lives. Over the last two decades it has begun to creep in and alter the way we do everything. Most classrooms have some sort of technology whether it’s a the SMARTBoard, laptop carts, iPads, etc.

Even looking around at mundane places like the grocery store or the airport trolley everyone is on some sort of device. Many adults can’t even navigate without Google Maps and when  was the last time the average adult read a book instead of scrolling through Facebook? Students are no exception. At lunch their necks hang low as they scroll through their feeds, they Snap each other from the same desk clusters and record fights on their cell phones. Unfortunately, this has begun to affect learning negatively. Students don’t look to the book or their notes for answers, they turn to Google or Siri. Rather than trying to problem solve or review they often try to “search up” the answers instead of using the traditional classroom resources. Trying to keep kids engaged with a lesson and to remove their earbuds is a daily struggle. Some schools have even adapted locking pouches to keep students off their phones during the school day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but I wonder if things will go back to the way they once were or if this is just the reality of life now. My hope is that we find a balance between our digital lives and our real lives and that this is not the new normal. What suggestions do you have for unplugging and have you, too, noticed these changes?

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1 thought on “The Slippery Slope of Technology and Learning”

  1. Leslie Fitzgerald

    I personally struggle with unplugging and I know my students do as well. A coworker and I were recently discussing phone numbers and I realized that if I didn’t have my phone with pre-programmed numbers I could only call three people. I haven’t memorized any other phone numbers. The first two numbers are my mother and my in-laws and I memorized both of them before cell phones were in common use. The third is my husband and I know that one because it differs from mine in final digit only.
    I’ve also recently noticed myself failing to retain information that I know I can readily access through my phone. I will look at the time for a scheduled meeting or event, and promptly forget it. Knowing I can just push a button again to see it seems to by my brains signal to bypass short term memory altogether.
    I don’t know what the answers are, but I agree that the trends are disturbing.

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