Cyber schoolrooms: Changing face of school today
IN TODAY’S CYBER SCHOOLROOMS, DECISIONS ABOUT HOW TO INCORPORATE HIGH-TECH DEVICES INTO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS DEPEND VERY MUCH ON MULTIFACETED FACTORS.
In keeping with the changing face of education, schools are incorporating more and more technology in lesson plans. Consider the availability of digitized resources such as smart teaching boards, video cameras, audio recorders, speech synthesizers, text converters and power point presentations, to name a few.
Fueled by the expectation that people today must be tech-savvy, schools have no choice but to prepare students for to be technology literate and to make sure that they do not lag behind.
The real challenge, however, is not how many digital devices schools have but rather how technology is used in classrooms.
In his encounter with a computer in learning English, a third grader at a private school in Tangerang, Matthew Adriel, was fascinated by how fast and easily he could do an assignment with the help of a device in his school lab. Learning how to distinguish colors and shapes in English, he, along with his schoolmates, was asked to match and paste various colors to different shapes provided.
For Matthew, learning English facilitated via a computer was a fun and encouraging experience.
Matthew’s experience in learning illustrates the fact that the integration of computers into a lesson can make students more enthusiastic about learning. That’s certainly the merit of technology in education.
Yet, while most schools today have equipped themselves with a wealth of new technologically wired resources, encouraging learners to be creative and independent in thinking and solving problems, a host of challenges and concerns remain.
Many education experts have warned of the downside of the net. Most web pages, they say, are like the wilderness, and not many teachers are adequately trained to use the internet creatively.
Others go on to say that digital environments are often characterized by non-standard forms, which can distort and even weaken language development. Still, others claim that evidence is still absent as to whether the use of computers boosts learning and improves test scores.
To tackle the problems, they exhort, technology can be best used in schools as a learning path to reach educational goals. It should be placed in the background, not the foreground.
It seems clear that the challenge for schools now is not simply to prepare students to be technology literate but more importantly to guide them to be morally responsible for what they explore in cyberspace.
Violent, racist, blasphemous and pornographic materials are just some of the content of the wired technology that await students once they are ready to go online.
Schools cannot take for granted that tech-savvy and wired kids are able to apply a critical eye to what they read on the net. The paradox “that the more advanced their knowledge about technology, the more gullible they become” rings true here. They might think that everything they read online is the truth and is infallible. Here, teacher intervention is vital to help them sort the wheat from the chaff, to identify misinformation.
Today’s students are of the net generation, growing up mostly in wired households and vicinities. It comes as no surprise that their knowledge of technology may be more advanced than that of their teachers and parents. For this reason, schoolwork that asks them simply to perform tasks on digital devices may become mundane and frustrating for them.
Teachers then must go beyond equipping children with the know-how of technology. They must make the students cognizant of the merits and demerits of technology in their lives and how it affects achieving learning goals.
Nevertheless, the exponential rise of digital devices hitherto, while necessary for facilitating successful teaching and learning, should not make teachers heavily dependent on them. In a recent article entitled “Technology in Language Use, Language Teaching and Language Learning published” in The Modern Language Journal, Chun, Kern and Smith (2016) say that with regard to the use of technology in education, teachers must consider such aspects as learning goals, the abilities and interests of the learners, the availability of resources and the academic culture of a school.
In most circumstances, there are good reasons for clinging to conventional ways of teaching to reach learning goals. Computers and the internet are pedagogical tools like books, pencils and chalkboards, and may have drawbacks. They is no substitute for human interaction.
The emergence of digital devices is not meant to result in the abandonment of book-bound comics, biographies, novels and individual face-to face interaction or group interaction.
As sophisticated as digital storytelling is where written text can be mixed with music, voice, sound and images, it won’t be able to help children develop proper language skills. They must listen and talk directly to real people, and be given feedback about the proper conventions of communication.
Similarly, evidence abounds that reading printed books at home and in a public library helps accelerate students’ language development. Also, performing simple tasks like drawing and coloring using crayons and gluing paper is no less fun and encouraging an experience for young learners.
Thus, the changing face of education by no means renders the traditional wisdom of conventional teaching worthless and insignificant for successfully achieving educational goals. (