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Technology myths dispelled by North Rowan Middle School students

The following is an essay written by Angie Fleming’s sixth-grade class at North Rowan Middle School. The class accepted a challenge from Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody to write an article about the truths of technology in the classroom, as a class problem-based learning project.

Dr. Moody’s challenge

Dr. Moody assigned our AIG class a challenge. This challenge was to prove the benefits and debunk the negative myths about technology in our education. We accepted the challenge and started brainstorming. Here are some of the myths and assumptions about utilizing technology in our schools.

Myths vs. Truths

Myth No. 1: Technology is used to cyber-bully. Students are exposed to negative social media.

The Truth: Students can learn how to use proper “netiquette” while online. Students can also learn how to protect their identities, create positive profiles for future colleges and employers to view, learn the benefits of posting positive and encouraging messages, and stand up for students who are being bullied. Many people have heard about the negative things students have done on social media, so people assume that’s true of all students. We can assure you that this is not true; the majority of students use technology in a positive manner.

Myth No. 2: Technology does not benefit student learning at home.

The Truth: Students can utilize technology to work at home individually and collaboratively on homework and projects, and they can easily receive assignments from teachers if they were absent from school. If you need help at home with assignments, you can email the teacher to get assistance. Students can play educational games and explore areas of interest in depth, such as historical or scientific concepts.

Myth No. 3: Technology does the thinking for students. Students do not learn enough skills on their own.

The Truth: Tools such as autocorrect and spellcheck can help students with their learning. If students are taught how to use these tools to the best of their ability, their spelling can actually improve. Dictionaries and thesauruses are accessible to benefit students in their learning. Students can use apps to help meet their unique learning styles. Using technology makes school projects and homework easier to organize; you’re also able to keep it in a variety of electronic files for easy access, to view in your own time. Students are able to create notebooks online for expert note-taking. Also, just in case you miss a topic in class, a friend or teacher is able to send you the notes easily. Students also have the ability to research topics; there is no need to worry if books aren’t available in the libraries or if those books are not up-to-date.

Myth No. 4: Students get distracted and play on their iPads/laptops.

The Truth: Students are fully engaged when using technology in their learning process. They can learn and have fun at the same time. Students can apply many gaming apps, such as Minecraft, to their learning. For example, Minecraft can be used for mythology units, novel projects, history re-enactments, science projects, etc. Students now have the opportunity to reach outside of traditional classroom walls and find more information on topics then they ever could before. Students get totally engaged using technology to further explore educational topics. By using this technology, students are given many opportunities to share what they have learned in other classrooms around the world.

Myth No. 5: Technology creates mindless students and is addictive.

The Truth: Technology can be a beneficial tool for differentiation. Students can use language translations, audio versions, spell check, calculators, etc. They can create different types of study guides — vocabulary flashcards, notes, Keynotes, Minecraft creations, etc. — to help them master skills. Students have to problem-solve to get technology to work in a way that is beneficial to them. Technology is not just used for the sake of having technology in classrooms. Many different activities are used to teach and engage our students. Technology not only helps you with finding a way to use it to its fullest potential, but also helps you set the pace at which you learn. Over the years, teachers have observed that not all students work and learn at the same pace. For example, one student can struggle at reading and spelling, and another student can excel at those skills. Technology is advancing, and it’s capable of helping teachers teach their students at a pace that is beneficial for them. After using educational apps with teacher guidance, struggling students will learn how to master skills and objectives on their own.

Myth No. 6: Some students can’t use technology at home because they don’t have access to the internet.

The Truth: Students can download or take pictures of the needed information from the internet at school, and use this at home to create a report, iMovie, science project, etc. They can take the downloaded information and soar with their projects. Also, we have many businesses and community centers that offer free internet access for our students.

Myth No. 7: Electronics cost too much.

The Truth: In today’s society we have a very competitive job market. Our world is very technology-based and most of our jobs today require tech-savvy employees. If we want our students/future leaders to succeed and do everything to the best of their abilities, they need to have every advantage to be successful. If students at our schools are struggling financially, we do everything we can to make sure they have the same advantages as any other student. Grants, community members and groups and assistance from companies have supported our 21st Century initiative. We need to consider the future of our natural resources as well. We will not need to spend as much on new textbooks, paper, etc. We are saving a lot of trees by not needing to cut them down for school supplies each year and using electronics instead.

Myth No. 8: Technology inhibits social skills.

The Truth: Isolation is a valid concern, but technology can be used to share ideas, to actively involve all participants in class activities, and to improve social skills. For example, students really enjoy sharing how they figured out a problem using technology or showcasing how they created a project on an educational unit. Technology can also enhance presentation quality — students can create “wow” presentations — for example, iMovies, virtual models, Keynotes and ideas that are student-created. It also helps students develop leadership skills as they share their ideas and solutions with other students and with teachers. Students also have the opportunity to share ideas with other classrooms around the world.

Additional benefits:

Most of the students in today’s classrooms want good careers. To achieve this, we must do the work first and think of the consequences of our actions before we decide to play games. We love to research and discover new things; technology allows us to do that at the touch of a screen.

Technology gives us the amazing opportunity to explore topics of interest. When we use technology the way it was intended, we are bettering ourselves as students, as well as future adults. The technology we have today allows us to have fun while we are learning; this helps us students fall in love with learning! Laptops and iPads are portable, which allows us to learn almost anywhere in the world we could possibly imagine. Learning is no longer exclusive to being behind four walls.

Technology today gives our parents a connection to our wonderful teachers. Not only is this convenient for our parents, but also for our teachers; our parents can easily help us get the assistance that we need.

As we get older and come to the point where we need to start looking for jobs, we will look back at the skills we learned by using technology. One thing we will remember is when we made amazing presentations. It’s a skill we learned at a pretty young age that will be carried into adulthood. I think we can all agree that one thing we really enjoy about school is making our presentations unique to us, and then getting to share them with the class. All of the concepts and activities that we learn in school and apply to our technology affect our futures.

If you are even a little bit skeptical about the way our classroom operates, please feel free to stop by and watch us in action expanding our education in technology and other concepts.

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