Teaching with new resources

Lately, we have experienced many changes in our academic program. In past years, certain classes have picked up different technological tools to hopefully assist students’ learning. Many of these efforts, unfortunately have seen mediocre benefit, as there are inherent flaws in implementing technology into education. However, even though we aren’t seeing much gain in the present day, these are the types of innovation that should be continued, seeing that one day it could lead to educational breakthrough.

One of these changes includes the new process of submitting math homework online. Ideally, it should allow teachers to monitor which problems students are struggling with, as the teachers are now able to see how long it takes for each student to solve a problem. It also holds students accountable for actually completing the assignment, since the answers are to be submitted within a certain time frame in order for it to be considered for credit. Unfortunately, this method has been met with criticism, as punching in numbers on the keyboard is time-consuming and adds nothing to learning the material. The actual work is being done on paper, but extra time is used opening up the assignment online as well as transferring answers.

When it comes to thinking through a difficult math problem, a computer doesn’t have much to offer. Sitting down with a pencil and paper is still the best method for a student’s learning. Extended practice through application and physically writing down concepts challenges the brain to cement learning material.

While the whole technological aspect of teacher-student communication has its potential benefits of extra help, it takes up a lot of time while providing little support. Using technology to ask for help is time-consuming and unnecessary when one considers how much time there is during class, tutorial and after school to ask for help.

Computerizing homework may actually even prove to be detrimental to a student’s educational experience. Staying online for hours because of homework could encourage more social media usage and other distractions. Personally, I make it a goal to stay away from my phone and laptop while I’m completing my work, but even so, notifications, club obligations, photos and “urgent news” from my friends still act as distractions. Now that there is a valid excuse to go on a device and open up Internet tabs, the temptation to succumb to such means of communication does not promote effective studying habits.

However, shifting online for homework may not be all that pointless for students. Science courses, in an effort to save money, have computerized labs. Now, for example, rather than keeping fruit flies in boxes to hopefully observe the course of genetic flow, simulations are provided to yield more accurate results while saving much of the stress that comes with the actual lab. The learning of the material, arguably, stays the same.

Schoology, an online classroom forum, is another way for teachers to directly post lectures and answers for students at home, a method handy for preventing every student from pulling out their phone to snap a picture of a worksheet during class. This website and others allow teachers to post pictures and messages, a large improvement in communication from a single teacher to a class of 30. The clarification of a lesson or a quick heads-up before a test clears up a lot of confusion, allowing students to focus purely on material.

Technology has its time and place, which shouldn’t be rushed. We shouldn’t be afraid to revert back to old methods if this new approach ultimately does not help. That being said, these experiments shouldn’t be discouraged, as it is this type of thinking that points in the right direction of innovative thinking and educational progress.

By Brian Chen, Staff writer

Photo by Elaine Liu