My little sister started Grade 7 this year. Looking at her school supply list, I was struck by how different it was from my own at that age. Binders? Highlighters? Coloured pencils? None of the above. Instead, in addition to the USB stick that has been standard for a few years, she was also asked to bring a tablet computer.
She’s not the only one with a more technological approach to learning – Grade 3 students in Richmond Hill spent last spring learning social studies by playing SimCity on classroom iPads. High schools across the country have begun mandating laptops for students. “Smart boards” have proliferated in classrooms at all levels. One Calgary-based school has even created classroom Twitter feeds – for kindergarten. And at that age I thought it was awesome that we had a class goldfish!
The debate over classroom technology can go both ways. On the one hand, technology can connect students to the world, facilitate communication for those with certain disabilities, and provide more effective one-on-one attention than a teacher might be able to in a busy classroom. On the other hand, it opens up a whole new avenue of potential distraction for students – which is why some university profs have gone so far as to ban laptops from their classrooms. The equipment is also fragile and, more importantly, expensive, raising concerns about students potentially becoming targets for theft, and even about losing access to education because they can’t afford the price of entry to so-called “public” school.
What do you have to say about this issue?