Plugging into technology | SteamboatToday.com

Plugging into technology

Lorin Paley

It’s 7:20 a.m., better known as zero hour at the high school.

You stayed up late studying and checking up on your Facebook. Although your chemistry teacher plans on an information-packed class, you hope to discreetly catch some needed sleep.

Instead of just letting you zone out, the teacher cranks up the volume on a Red Hot Chili Peppers song from his iTunes, and you jam out while taking notes.

Scenario 2: You are sitting in Spanish class, listening to Spanish music in order to train your ears. Because she does not own the song on her iTunes, the teacher goes to YouTube to play the song for the class.

Are these scenarios of technology in the classroom fact or fable?

The first actually happened, but the second could not because YouTube is a restricted site at the high school.

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What if the high school didn’t restrict technologies such as iPods, Web sites or wireless Internet?

Would kids zone out on their iPods or would it increase their ability to do work? Would congestion in the library media center be eased if there were wireless access provided for all students, or would a computer virus fry the whole network? Do the benefits of sites such as YouTube outweigh the risks?

iPods: Study techniques differ among students. Some like to study with music, others prefer background noise or a very quiet room.

It would be beneficial to all students if they can each study their own way in a single classroom. Currently, some teachers allow iPods during class study time, while other teachers don’t allow iPods at all. Perhaps iPods are only beneficial for certain subjects or criteria.

Other teachers are concerned students won’t do any work if they are allowed to listen to music.

Wireless: Because the Internet is a frequently-used resource for research, curiosity and entertainment, competition for the media center’s few computers is high.

This is also a problem when Internet-based homework is assigned. In order to ease the computer bottleneck, allowing students to access wireless Internet on their own laptops might be a good solution.

This would increase the number of available computers without additional cost. The high school is working on the issue of computer viruses and, hopefully, wireless will become available to students.

Internet sites: It is understandable that some inappropriate Internet sites such as those that promote violence, pornography or illegal activity be restricted, but where do you draw the line? Should you restrict Google Language Tools because one can easily translate Spanish class homework? Should Wikepedia be restricted because its content can be altered, making it an unreliable source of information? What about YouTube, which has broad content and can be used as a game site as well as a resource? These sites currently are restricted, but there is a limit on how well anyone can police the Internet.

Like adults, high school students will have to learn how to best use these technologies. High school seems like a great place to learn.

Maybe less restrictions and more freedom will help us make well-informed choices.

Oh, GTG, I’ve got a text message.