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Technology in the classroom: winner or loser?

By Marie Bueno | Pulse Staff Reporter

Tech
Photo Illustration by Marie Bueno

We often hear all the warnings about texting and driving. You become distracted from the road, and you can’t possibly text or use the cell phone and give the road your complete, undivided attention.

This same mentality can be applied to a classroom. While we are not exactly putting other drivers or our lives at stake, we could be selling ourselves short at getting the most out of our class time.

When used to assist with the lecture, electronic devices in the classroom can become a valuable asset, however, they can also cause a distraction to our classmates, our instructors, and us. With the outside world at the touch of our fingertips, it can be tempting to let your mind wander during class by engaging in texting, tweeting and facebooking during class.

We may be losing out on more than we think: our education.

“Nothing is more distracting than having someone in front or to the side of you texting or playing a game while lecture is taking place,” said Carla Galindo, a Communications freshman. “It’s like a domino effect. The instructor gets distracted by the student playing with their phone, and the other students get distracted by the instructor focusing on the student.”

Most instructors make it clear in the beginning of the semester that cell phones need to be turned off while class is in session. Electronic devices should only be used as a tool to assist with learning.

“I see both the positive and negative side of bringing technology into the classroom,” said Dr. Glen Tanck, assistant professor of Geology at Palo Alto College.

Electronic devices are not necessary during his lecture, and he doesn’t approve of phone use during lecture, but a smart phone can help students a great deal in lab if they need to look up something relating to the lab material.

While it may come in handy in some instances, it is easy to get distracted if access to the outside world is in the palm of our hands.

Having technology at our fingertips in the classroom does have its benefits. It is useful for no other reason than it can help students better understands the material.  With the help of technology, instructors are able to use tools like projectors, laptop computers and clickers to help accentuate the material.

For some students, the use of technology in the classroom, whether by the instructor or the student, is not bothersome.

“I don’t easily get distracted…I usually don’t focus on what other students are doing,” said Courtney Contreras, a sophomore in Early Childhood Education.

Not everyone has the desire to be on the cutting edge of the latest technology, and it may serve as a disruption to others in the classroom.  Students are in college to learn. If technology is helping students achieve that goal, that’s great. If not, put it aside.