The Digitalization of Schoolwork

Whether it be for writing essays, translating words or watching videos to supplement instruction, technology is used regularly in Tino classrooms. An inherent consequence of practicing different forms of digital learning is the debate about too much or too little.

Students and teachers at Tino have strong opinions regarding our digital learning style and what, if anything, we should change to gain the most benefits for the students and teachers. 

Kiki Canton, a level 1 and 4H Spanish teacher, utilizes technology to find authentic and relevant resources for her students to help supplement their learning. Digital exams and schoolwork also make giving her students feedback a faster process. 

“Now you get your scores immediately and know whether or not you need to work on the skill or if you’ve mastered it before the test. So for formative assessments, in particular, I really value technology,” Canton said.

The use of digital learning, however, comes with many drawbacks: distractions, plagiarism, and less interpersonal learning are all complications that interfere with a smooth classroom environment. 

Canton has incorporated methods to manage student technology use in class. Phone policies, lockdown browser, and only necessary laptop use are all ways she ensures digital learning is a productive process. For her, these methods have been extremely successful, and her students agree: 

“I will have students at the end of the year that’ll say– ‘this is the class where I feel like I got to know most people. I actually had real conversations.’”

Through face-to-face conversations and focused communication, Canton’s students learn to improve their speaking and listening skills in ways more effective than technology. 

She utilizes technology alongside verbal and written instruction but focuses on the traditional method, especially for writing exams that are similar to what the AP demands. 

“I’m not opposed to getting help or using a dictionary using resources […] but I want to see true samples of writing,” Canton said, “It’s too tempting not to use a translator.”

Canton feels that while technology has its various benefits, its purpose should always be to enhance learning, not be the default option used in classrooms.

Most students, however, generally find themselves on the other side of the argument: digital learning is easier and more convenient. 

Saranya Raghavendra, a junior at Tino, agrees that technology comes with its ups and downs in classrooms, but ultimately, it is a resource that significantly improves student learning.

Said Raghavendra, “[Technology] is a lot more organized. Everything’s more orderly. I don’t have to search through folders for papers, and then there are a lot more tools I can use with it.”

She states that Schoology provides a convenient place to look at all upcoming work and tests and plan, keeping students like her on track. She does not believe, however, that classes need to take drastic measures to transform our digital learning environment.

“I think the balance is pretty good. I think there are a lot of papers sometimes, but sometimes it is easier to work on paper,” said Raghavendra.

Classes like math are more effectively conducted on paper, which makes technology obsolete in advancing instruction. 

To prevent issues like distractions when using technology in classrooms, students like Raghavendra have many methods to stay focused. 

“You can put yourself on Do Not Disturb mode […] open a new window specifically for one thing. Try to minimize the number of ways you can get distracted.”

Raghavendra argues that the issues that come with technology are evident, regardless of the use of digital learning in classrooms, such as plagiarism and distraction. 

“Technology is not inherently dangerous. And it’s not inherently cheating, you know; it’s just the way people use it. And the way people use paper can pose the same challenges,” Raghavendra said.

According to her, the balance between digital learning and traditional, paper-style learning is okay because each student learns differently; having both methods available is the best way to ensure each student has access to their method. 

Currently, all classes at Tino rely on some degree of digital learning, but whether we increase or decrease our use of technology in our education is a question dependent on the students and teachers it affects.