The paradigm shift in the contemporary society in relation to the learning environment witnessed in the wake of a new light of advancement in technology has had all sorts of impact on various entities in the society. The forces of globalization have been viewed directly as destructive in many ways though this is still debatable as it is subjective of personal judgment.
When technology fails to be used constructively or when it does not find an effective application, technology becomes detrimental to autonomy in thinking and action. This technology has seen introduction of the gadgets of science into the classrooms, study rooms and to be specific, to the students’ life. It has impeded the capability of self creativity in students as they leave all thinking to machines like computer and the hi-tech learning gadgets. Most people argue that modern technology has a negative impact on the socialization of students because it eliminates need for physical activity, impairs critical thinking skills, and limits face to face interaction.
Limits face to face interaction
This is not a subject one would conclude at once by leaning on one particular side. It is therefore imperative to critically look at both sides of the divide and an analyze views on the basis of zero bias. On the contrary, and in support of the argument above, we find that technology has invaded the learning environment and turned it upside down. The introduction of computers in schools, for example, has reduced the level of student- to-student interaction and in its stead placed student-to-computer interaction to rule supreme. (Glenn M. Kleiman (2000) The Digital Classroom- http://www.edletter.org/dc/kleiman.htm).
This means that the students spend most of their time relating and communicating with the machines rather than face-to-face interaction of the students to each other. This later on leads to development of ethical dilemmas in the future society. In such a milieu the learner prefers to associate with ‘non-physical’ characters on TV, net or web. This leads to stereotyping behavior in students. Recent research carried out in 2001, (Seemann, E. et al-(2001). Also see C. Crawford et al. 2001 and URL: http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/tiol.html), reveals that the use of computer mediated communication and technology in the learning environment has great impact in changing the lives of students in the classroom. It further indicates that through modern technology, students’ behavior in terms of interactions with the teachers and the tutors is immensely influenced as well as that among the students themselves. This approach, the researchers argue, downplays the significance of social contact hence may lead many students to fail in developing the necessary social skills to function in the world.
Impediment to Critical thinking
Secondly, the use of the modern technology in learning environment may be a substantial threat to the ability of students to develop high level of critical thinking. This means that since the use of computer aided communication will entail the fingers pressing for a click of the mouse, liberation of ideas will be thwarted and thus hinder creativity. When there is no liberation of ideas there’s little or no creativity and therefore originality and subsequent development take a back seat. Because of availability of a machine with ready-to-use programs, the student will not care questioning of the present method of approach to a problem and therefore will not discover new ways and means of solving a given problem.
Eliminates need for physical activity
The technology can also play quite a significant role in producing laziness in terms of reduced physical dexterity to engage in any exercise that involves exercise to the body. The importance physical exercises play to the body is of great relevance to the healthy development of a physically fit individual. The above research also reiterates that even physical activity by students becomes a nightmare as the only involvement of the student will be the hand or fingers, the eyes together with ears- if there be any additional item on the list, it should be nothing other than maximum fixation to the screen, (Seaman, E. et al-(2001)).
On the other side of the divide lies the great relevance computer aided communication and technology based learning have in modeling individual students in the classroom and the society. Those who argue that the relevance of technology in a learning environment is absolute contend that though the technology may have some negative impacts, the positive achievements are far much superb and outweigh the negative ones. This argument holds that a student needs to develop the skills referred to as the multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner, 1983).
Gardner says that the use of the powerful technological enables speeded development of these intelligences. In addition, human machine interaction enables an individual to think, communicate and deliberate on ideas through development of creativity in words, speech and writing. Most modern technology like some computer software that allows young children to and illustrate their own narratives or stories before their motor skills are fully developed enhance learning and creativity to start early in life.
Even though the use of computer aided communication and the technology in the conveyance of learning information is objected by some, learners are able to interact closely with mathematical intelligences which enable them to memorize, and carry out mathematical operations in addition to thinking mathematically, analytically and logically before applying the understanding to solve problem. Through these modern systems students are able to interact with scientists exploring the depths of certain places but electronically.
The students also develop high ability to understand the world they live in through what they see thus developing spatial or visual intelligence. By development of kinesthetic intelligence students are able to learn through dexterity and coordination thus developing the ability to express their feelings better thereby removing any doubts of ethical dilemmas. The students too can have musical intelligence thus be able to perform and appreciate or create music by whichever means, voice, dance or instruments. Though some scholars argue and maintain that use of the technology reduces the student’s socialization capability, others maintain that in the real sense the technology gives the student the chance to gain high levels of interpersonal intelligence thus being able to cooperatively work with others. This is done through electronic networking.
The bias that is revealed when trying to analyze the argument from one viewpoint is quite evident. Technology has been of great importance in improving the quality of education, the efficiency in acquisition of information and effective application of positive changes in the society and realization of the relevance of these changes to the learning environment. At the same time, it would still be unwise to refute the negative impacts of the technology to the social relations, physical activity and critical thinking of the students in their classrooms. However, the positive role played in enhancing the appreciation of technology in the learning environment cannot go without being lauded. The role for sure supersedes by far the demerits that accompany it.
To be of maximum benefit and relevance, application of technology in the learning environment must be applied with care and consideration in order to make the learning process to be qualitatively different and attractive. As we embrace the benefits of having technology, we must also prepare to deal with its negativities. This way, the learning process in the classroom can become richer and pose less threat to the values and autonomy of every individual student. Otherwise it would have an impact that is not desirable whether the learning environment is home-based or institutional one.
Seemann, E., Wilkinson, L., et al. Impact of Technology on Socialization of Student in the Classroom, 2001.
Kleiman, Glenn M. The Digital Classroom- 2000. Accessed on Friday April 25, 2008 from URL: http://www.edletter.org/dc/kleiman.htm
Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Teacher Education and Information