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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Technology in the School

Written on October 16, 2013 by Brett Nordquist

While taking an accounting course in college, I often wondered why the professor demanded we manually tally columns of numbers instead of using a calculator or computer. During her office hours, I finally decided to express my frustration. My professor calmly agreed that using a calculator or computer would be a much more efficient solution.

And then she said something I’ve not forgotten in nearly two decades: “I want my students to understand the accounting principle behind the calculation.”

She went on to explain how devices and software would be used once I completely understood the principle.

I thought back to this college experience recently when my son was docked points from a test because his teacher was unable to read his writing. My first thought was, “Who cares? He can type 50 WPM!” But the more I reflected on it, I began to see the value in my son learning to write legibly.

If you haven’t taken a tour of a school lately, you might be shocked at the number of devices children have access to today. Each day my kids use a combination of computers, laptops, and tablets which have been integrated into the curriculum. Documents are created and saved to Dropbox so they can be edited at school or at home. Assignments are emailed to teachers, and most correspondence between parent and teacher is done through a online portal. When my daughter forgets to hand in an assignment, I’m notified immediately.

As a parent, I’m trying to make sense of it all.

What the local library was to me, Google is to my children. My book reports would have kicked butt had I had access to Wikipedia! I’m sure the bar has been raised. Teachers expect more from my children who have unfiltered access to the world’s information at their fingertips than they did from me when my best source on the topic of amphibians was a WorldBook Encyclopedia from the mid 1950s.

It’s exciting to think about how technology will augment  and enhance education in the future.  We are to the point today that adding more computers to schools probably doesn’t contribute much. The increase in learning comes from using them properly, similar to what my accounting professor was trying to tell me years ago. I recall learning how to navigate my way around a computer, how to type, and how to use a word processor, and that wasn’t until 7th grade. Today’s 7th grader would run circles around me.

I’m just beginning to think about how my children’s education changes when every device they touch is connected to the internet. Will I field fewer questions from my children? How will they recognize online opinion from fact? These and other issues will be addressed as they come to rely more on a digital world.

Until that time, I’ll be working with my son on his penmanship. 

Tags: Computers, Dropbox, Education
Wilson Chau

Poor penmanship...that's the first sign of heading toward a career as a doctor!

Posted on 2013-10-17 03:04:19

I hadn't thought of that but I think you're right!

Posted on 2013-10-17 06:24:00

Back in 1975 I took a chemistry course at a community college. My dad had given me a brand new TI programmable calculator which was pretty hi-tech for the day. So, I walked into the class and the instructor said, "I want all of you to use a slide rule for the class!" Say, what? Well, I argued my case with the instructor, and I had lots of support from my classmates, but to no avail. So, we all had to out and buy slide rules and learn how to use the darned things; as if chemistry wasn't hard enough.
I think that his underlying plan was for us to really think about what we were doing and to really learn chemistry. It stood me in good stead many years later when I taught fire chemistry and physics at the same college.
In regards to penmanship--I learned how to be neat and clean in my handwriting by taking a drafting class in junior high school (ca 1961). Our teacher was a stickler for perfect lettering, and it stuck with me to this day.
While technology available to students can be a good thing if used properly, I believe parents and teachers should encourage their charges to develop their critical thinking skills, rather than just hitting "Search" on a keyboard and taking someone else's word for it.

Posted on 2013-10-18 00:31:26

There are actually many benefits that a student can get if they will go into some technology courses especially that they can attain more skills and knowledge which is very demand in many companies nowadays. It's also a great opportunity for them if there are schools who offers this kind of course.

Posted on 2015-07-12 06:44:29