In my High School we were a part of the “Classrooms of the Future” program, which provided certain classes technology for their classrooms to further enrich the students’ education. These rooms had laptops for each student, SmartBoards, projectors, and some other equipment that I don’t honestly remember because we barely used it. On paper, it sounds great, it lets students use the technology to better learn the course material, but in practice it didn’t seem to work that well. First of all, the computers were very slow and many times, had issues with logging in. Although the teachers were trained on using the additional technology for their course material, they didn’t have the technical skills to troubleshoot the technical issues that often occurred. This required a technical support person to be called down to the class and figure out the problem, wasting a lot of class time. The implementation was not well done which made the technology that was meant to enrich the students’ education; they are unhelpful due to many technical issues. Many times the technology was used a scarcely throughout the semester, and sat unused many times. This was not an effective way to implement technology in a classroom from a technical standpoint, not to mention how the students were using the computers which many times, was not for educational purposes.
Personally, I use an iPad in all my classes for note taking which works great for me! Previously, I used a netbook, which is a small, portable laptop that did the job but, since it ran a full version of Windows XP, it was very slow and ineffective. I realized that I didn’t need a full desktop operating system for a computer that I use to just take notes, surf the web and check e-mail on, the latter two, not in class of course, although I do use my devices to look things up for class. I tried to use some lightweight Linux operating systems before finally selling my netbook and buying a like-new use iPad. It works great for notetaking, even with just an on-screen touch-based keyboard; it also takes a lot less time and effort to administrate. I have also noticed that because the iPad was much more compact, I can use it to study my notes, instead of doing what I did previously which was printing out the notes and using a lot of paper as well as printer ink. Another benefit of using my iPad is that I can go paperless, of course with the addition of a document scanner and an app called GoodReader, which syncs files from Dropbox on my computer to my iPad for offline use. Now, instead of having physical folders for all my classes, I just use my iPad for all my papers. I still keep graded papers, but now I have a whole lot less paper in my life, which makes life much easier with my iPad. I believe that the reason this works well is because it’s very simple and can be easily administered. Since I started using an iPad, I have been doing better in my classes and have used a lot less paper.
Technology in the classroom can be very useful as long as it is well implemented on a technical side and that students are kept on task, as in not using them for Facebook and surfing for non-academic purposes. Technology in the classroom opens students up to a whole world of information that is hard to access without using technology. Technology will play a larger and larger part in education as it further develops and is better implemented in the classroom. Who knows, someday, maybe in 100 years or so, school could be all online!