The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 19th

Column: Classrooms shouldn't be afraid of technology

I’ve always prided myself on being a pens-and-paper kind of girl (I mean, I do work for a print newspaper). I own a drawer full of notebooks, use specific pens for the types of notes I’m taking and jot down reminders on the palm of my hand. I look down on classmates who exclusively use e-books and take notes on Microsoft Word. 

My superiority complex was shattered, though, last week. My suitemate introduced me to the magical world of iPad Pros, at the same time I lost my notebook containing three weeks worth of meticulously hand-written ECON 101 lectures. 

My suitemate owns AirPods and recently got accepted into the business school, so I assumed buying an iPad was simply a rite of the passage for her. But as she was showing me her notes, I realized how convenient using this technology was. Her iPad automatically records her lecture, and take her back to the notes she was writing at the time. They’re color-coded and more organized than mine ever could be. And, most importantly, they’re backed up by iCloud.

Owning iPads and other advanced technology is a luxury — it’s a pricey investment that many students can’t afford. But if anything, it proves how technology in the classroom can enhance our education. 

Older generations frequently bemoan how technology has rotted our brains. From high school teachers to college professors, I’ve been in plenty of classes where laptops and phones have been outright banned. In the most recent decades, our society has gone through massive transformations because of technology, yet the way we learn, most often handwritten notes from a lecture, has been the standard of education since when our grandparents were in grade school. 

Technology shouldn’t replace traditional teaching, which is what I’ve seen it utilized for in 13 years of primary and secondary public education. But we certainly shouldn’t be afraid of it. 

It’s no secret that my generation is technologically adept. My earliest memories include playing computer games with my dad, and more recently, my younger cousins have known how to use smartphones since before they could walk. It only makes sense to adapt classrooms to this generation’s needs.

If education fully adopts technology, and allows it to become just as much a part of the classroom as textbooks and pencils, we can learn to use it to its full potential, and find a greater meaning for the internet beyond social media and Buzzfeed quizzes. Virtual reality, coding, mobile applications and more can aid students both in the classroom and future careers, which will all incorporate technology to some degree. 

Technology can only become a distraction if it’s not incorporated into the classroom the correct way. Fully integrating devices such as iPad Pros is going to be a long process of trial and error, but banning them outright from classrooms is not the right start.

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