by Tommy Johnson ’19
The rise of smartphones and the implementation of various new software and equipment in school systems has impacted education across the world. As a result, the educational experience our parents and grandparents received is far different from what we have come to know today. Perhaps the most significant effect technology has had on education has been its effect on how teachers run their classroom. Rather than in the past where textbooks were the primary form of instruction, teachers now have access to thousands of documentaries and resources, making class far more engaging for students. Student accountability has also been positively affected by the advancement of technology. Thanks to websites like turnitin.com, teachers can now more easily check work for plagiarism and ensure that the work students turn in is their own. Students are also able to stay on top of their grades more easily than in the past. Apps, such as Edline and MCPS Helper, allow students to always know what grade they have in a class and lets them be aware of any missing assignments that their teacher did not inform them of.
Standardized testing organizations have also taken interest in updating their tests to take advantage of modern technology. The College Board has stated that it is interested in offering a computerized version of the SAT in the future, but currently have no plans to do so. The ACT, on the other hand, has already begun administering computerized tests at designated centers. The main attraction of a computerized test is that students receive their test scores almost immediately after finishing, rather than having to wait for weeks in anticipation. Another benefit of computer-based testing is that the test can actually adapt to test-takers proficiency based on the correct number of responses they have entered so far. This feature allows less proficient test takers to receive questions more at their level, and gives better test takers the chance to challenge themselves.
While there have undoubtedly been large improvements in the quality and ease of education due to the advancement of technology, there have also been a number unforeseen downsides. Student attention has been negatively affected by the existence of smartphones, allowing students to distract themselves by going on social media, texting friends, or playing mobile games, rather than paying attention in class. School systems have attempted to combat smartphone use by enacting zero tolerance policies for cellphones in class; however because smartphones are so small and easy to conceal, these policies end up being difficult to enforce.
Another frustration for teachers caused by the development of technology is the creation of online homework resources. These resources allow students to find answers to almost any homework assignment rather than actually having to do the assignment themselves. A study done by Rutgers University shows that over 95 percent of students admitted to copying homework (either from another student or from an online resource) at some point in their life.