With a shiny new Apple MacBook Pro and iPad in the hands of every incoming freshman, the classrooms at Moravian College have become increasingly flooded with technology. Students are taking notes on their computers. Reading journals are kept on laptops, tablets, and cellphones. The incoming classes type fluently and use apps as easily as they breath.
But as with any emerging influence in the scholastic pursuits, there is some controversy over the influx of tech into the classroom. Most classes are incorporating technology into assignments and integrating it into the syllabus, while others still require all electronic devices to be put away as class begins. Here are a few reasons why technology in the classroom is likely to benefit you:
1. Distractions can be dealt with.
If you're a student in the modern era, this is probably a familiar situation: you're sitting in class and you cannot keep your eyes off the cat memes on your classmate's computer. Even when the person beside you is concentrating on their own work, it is hard to resist the pull of social media, texting, and aimless internet browsing. These distractions can become even harder to combat when your iPhone connects to your MacBook and you receive social media notifications to your screen, regardless of whether you’re busy with school work or not.
I’ve been in college with and without a laptop at my disposal. The problem is not the technology (which certainly can make it easier for the mind to wander!), but rather the self discipline of the user. I have found that I can become distracted with and without a MacBook in front of me. My advice? Download an app like SelfControl, which allows you to block notifications during class and study time. Most importantly, do whatever is most conducive to your ability to learn! That often means knowing when to shut off your instant messenger, when it’s ok to pull out your shiny new toys, and when it’s best to keep them in your backpack (for your own sake and the sake of the people around you!).
2. Anyone can learn to use the technology.
Often, if not always, for us non-techies, learning to use the ever advancing technology that we encounter in the classroom is time consuming and frustrating. From the laptops we use every day and the apps/programs on them, to the projectors, computers, and wires you have to wrestle with just to present a powerpoint. Some people find this challenging, others find it easy, but at the end of the period, everyone benefits from the presence of these tools. We now have access to an unending supply of learning tools, from paper-writing resources like Purdue OWL to Pressie and Google Docs that make group projects all the more impressive. And once you become a master of the new tech, learning how to use all that stuff leaves most of us with a WOW-I’M-A-GENIUS feeling.
3. Technology can bring great dimensions to assignments.
A couple semesters ago, I was in a class that you’d expect to have a midterm paper on the syllabus; instead there was an iMovie project. At first I was hesitant about the idea because I’d never used the iMovie program—it wasn’t something I was comfortable with. What I learned through this assignment was: 1. Anyone can learn to use this stuff (as stated above) and 2. By using a video format, there were elements that I could incorporate into the project that I couldn’t convey in a powerpoint or paper. Using pictures and music, as well as academic sources and analysis, allowed me to convey an emotional impact and artistic appeal that would otherwise not have been possible. There are many ways, not just these, that the technology in our classrooms can expand the ways in which students express themselves and their work.
4. Taking notes and accessing course materials is easier than ever.
I know fellow students in departments as varied as history and biology who equally swear by their iPads and MacBooks. With these tools at their disposal, they are able to use apps to take notes, integrate relevant graphs and pages of e-textbooks into those notes, and pull up course materials from Canvas without having to carry a million different papers, binders, and textbooks. No more carrying a library with you to every class! Instead of remembering to print every reading assignment on Canvas, we have the option to access them anywhere, which leads to my last point...
5. The ability to work from anywhere.
This is a perk that I think we can all agree upon. Whether a student needs to create an outline for a paper, work on some algebra homework, or finish up a reading for class, having access to course materials, notes, e-textbooks, and resources like the Reeves Library database are the best parts of having convenient and portable laptops and tablets. When the weather is mild and warm, like it is at the start of the fall semester, we don’t have to choose between going outside or staying at our desk being responsible and getting our coursework done. In between classes, I don’t have to choose between getting some work done and getting some lunch. Which, let's be honest, always ends with lunch winning. With a laptop tucked in my bag, I have the freedom to work when and where I need to, without being tethered to the library or a desktop. This freedom has made time management a lot less stressful, and that’s just a win for everyone.