Today, technology plays a vital role in the world. The globalization era has completely relied on the existence of technology. It embraces a broad area revolving around construction, information, and medical technology among others. The Oxford Dictionary defines technology as the scientific knowledge used in practical ways in industry. This is a rather simple and somewhat shallow definition of a very broad term. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, technology is the practical knowledge application, especially in an area, and a capacity given by the practical use of knowledge. Therefore, technology refers to the ability of humans to apply their skills and knowledge, both physically and mentally, in order to maximize the use of available resources, resulting in the satisfaction of the desired goals. In the process of the application of this knowledge and skills, humans should be able to achieve their needs and satisfy their wants and thus solving the many problems that may face them. Technology has developed rapidly to become a major player in the growth of the economies of nations in the world over. Research conducted over the past decade reveals that the main factor that is derailing the growth and development of third world countries is the lack of modern technology. Every developed nation has a very advanced level of technology as its backbone.
Today, technology controls and influences every aspect of one’s life. It is crucial in the running of businesses and banks; it helps in human resource management and has enhanced the status of modern communication. The advancement in medicine and improved healthcare have their roots in technology. The education sector has also benefited from the growth of technology. In assessing the importance of technology today, one cannot afford to ignore areas such as medicine, communication, education, and security.
However, with all of its benefits and advantages, technology comes with a number of disadvantages, especially for students. Indeed, there is no denying that the education sector has grown in leaps and bounds due to the emergence of technology. It has facilitated access to information through the introduction of new ways of teaching and dissemination of information. Indeed, for over 30 years now, technology has been applied in classroom with the amazing positive responses regarding the motivation of students, their increased interest in learning, and their engagement in the lessons. The introduction of technology in classrooms has ultimately killed the debate on boredom and frustration among students as the use of technology has allowed them to feel smarter and empowered. Therefore, it is very easy to trace the positive impacts of technology on learning as this has been extensively written and researched on. However, as stated above, technology does have negative impacts on students.
Firstly, there is the distraction effect that technology has on students. Today, students approach education from a very different perspective. It is no longer the pen and paper approach that education used to be before the emergence of new technologies. With the advancement of technology, new strategies of learning have been adopted together with new social networking websites coming up. Today, almost the entire world is connected to a social networking website, which comes with the advantages of being constantly in the loop of what is happening. With the increase in technological development, technological devices that allow one to access such websites such as Facebook, Twitter, watsapp, and YouTube among others have become increasingly affordable and today every student has one. The element of distraction then comes in a number of ways.
One of the ways is that, with the emergence of technology, students find it extremely difficult to read classical texts stacked on library shelves. Students form a part of a system that does not require the need to develop a synthetic solution to problems that require them to process deeply or meaningfully. This is because, most students are used to look for a quick fix solution to problems and thus finding reading books a rather challenging task. The inability to read books and materials can therefore be associated with the increased use of social networking sites as most of them do not have time to sit and read such books. Students text each other frequently and are constantly chatting on these social networking sites, which have today become a critical point of interaction. In most cases today, there is no need for personal interaction in order to begin, continue, or sustain a relationship. These have resulted in distractions for students when they are learning as classes or library sessions are frequently interrupted by a text, a buzz, or a vibration, which has the effect of taking the focus away from the moment.
Another way in which technology has a distractive effect on learning for students is through the increased habit of multitasking among students. The character of technology is that it is designed in such a manner as to encourage simultaneity of activities among people. Indeed, a technology easily allows individuals to engage in multiple tasks concurrently due to the existence of highly technical technologies. For instance, the advancement in wireless technology has allowed for the introduction of additional visual and auditory information over and above the visual and auditory information presented by the instructor. These tools have been accepted in institutions of learning, thereby allowing a student to engage in a myriad of computing activities. These activities include synchronous social networking, note taking, and web browsing, which all are done at once. The impact of this multitasking on learning is that it has a distractive effect on students, thus affecting their ability to fully concentrate and pay attention to detail.
Learning and Teaching Styles
The emergence of technology in education has brought the introduction of new learning and teaching techniques, which are meant to enhance the ability of more and more people to have access to education. These learning techniques have been seen as advantageous to students as they allow for more interaction and engagement of students with whatever they are being taught. This is perhaps the intended objective of introducing new technologies in learning; however, the reality is that there are negative effects. Today’s classroom is no longer about pen and paper as students are increasingly comfortable using the web as a tool of learning. This has affected students in a number of ways, which include the ones discussed further.
Firstly, the inability of students to produce their own original pieces of work when they are given assignments in school has been one of the biggest effects of technology in learning. The increased over-reliance by students on the web as a tool, which has all the information needed for their work, has meant that they can no longer think on their own and therefore fail to produce original work, but instead reproduce work done by other authors on the same subject. This has resulted in increased cases of plagiarism whereby students fail to correctly cite the sources of their work, but rather submit it their own. Consequently, the lack of original thinkers coming out of schools has meant that the rate of innovation and research has substantially reduced as students are no longer encouraged to be creative and think on their own. This has also led to increased unemployment in the country as most students are unable to cope with the realities of the job market due to unpreparedness and lack of originality. Hence, as a tool or style of learning, the web does not encourage or cultivate the ability of students to think, process, and formulate their own independent ideas.
Secondly, technology has been greatly praised for the emergence of e-learning, which allows distance learning. Indeed, the concept of e-learning is a noble idea that has allowed many people to access institutions of learning that they otherwise would not be able to in the ideal world. Therefore, this allows many people to access education over the web and become a part and parcel of the institution offering education. However, this comes with the disadvantage of not enabling student to have personal interaction with the institution’s facilities such as laboratories, libraries, and other research facilities that will allow them to get sufficiently trained in their course. Some universities have attempted to set-up online libraries, however, this is only available to those students who have unlimited access to the internet and not all of them may be able to have this. Students, who have enrolled in e-learning, have little or even no interaction with lecturers and this has a bearing on the outcome of their training. Consequently, while technology has greatly increased the chances of many people getting access to institutions of higher learning, the quality of their training has been greatly compromised and thus interfering with their careers.
Thirdly, technology has allowed teachers to adopt new teaching habits, which may or may not be favorable to students. For instance, many lecturers have switched to the use of electronic notes in their courses whereby they simple disseminate the notes to students for the entire course over their email addresses and then may follow up in explaining the notes. While this may encourage students to read ahead and prepare for classes, the downside is that lecturers will feel lazy to come to classes, while students may abscond the classes altogether. Where the students have been given notes for the entire course, they may feel like they do not need to attend classes or, even if they attend, they may not participate fully in those classes. Many lecturers tend to ignore attending classes where they feel like they have given their students everything they need for their course. This has the impact of compromising the full comprehension and relation of the course by students, hence having an effect on the overall outcome of their training.
In general terms, the emergence of techniques of learning and teaching has a profound effect on students and their learning process. While these techniques may have several advantages for students, they greatly compromise the overall outcome of the learning process due to their weaknesses, which have not been addressed by the very technology. The most significant effect of all these techniques is that they encourage laziness among students as students are not able to go out of their way to find out information on the issues they are learning about in their courses. The over-reliance on quick fixes such as browsing through the web for answers is still a real problem in the relationship between technology and education. The critical factor is that the assessments of the advantages of technology have to be weighed against the disadvantages in order to determine whether in the long run it is better for one to do without technology in the actual execution of the learning process.
Discipline, Honesty, and Social Existence
One may argue that technology may have no bearing on the discipline, honesty, and social existence of a student due to its nature as a tool of advancing social progress. However, today technology strikes at the heart of the character of a person due to the content that it has. Technology therefore has the ability of shaping the character of a person, their discipline, honesty, and social existence.
Firstly, technology brings with it an ability of a student to connect with many people from all over the world and be able to interact with them over the web. This allows the student to meet individuals who have all kinds of lifestyles and beliefs that may have an impact on the character of the student. The unpredictability of just who one is likely to interact with over the internet makes it very hard and even impossible for parents as well as teachers to be in control of the way the student grows up. The student then has the discretion to pick up whatever he or she thinks is the best character of behavior from the internet, such as drinking and abusing drugs, being a member of weird websites, which encourage civil disobedience, or those, which do not believe in God, among many others. All these things and many others have a serious impact on the ability of the student to learn and become a properly rounded person in the society. Many are the cases where parents and teachers have discovered only too late about the characters that their children and students have picked up from the internet. This late discovery only makes it even more difficult to try and change the bad habit or character.
Secondly, technology gives an opportunity to access a huge amount of information and material within just a click of a button. The best assumption here is that students will only go looking for what they need for their courses and use only what is good for them. However, this could not be further from the truth as research indicates that many students do not read through the web materials that are relevant for their studies, but rather just scan them, while they spend more time on other websites that have little or nothing to do with learning. One of the most pressing concerns that have been associated with young people and technology is the question of pornographic content. Many students have been shown to be addicted to pornography due to the constant viewing of pornographic content online. The most pressing concern with this vice is the ease and availability with which it is accessible. Anyone who has a proper electronic device that can connect to the internet can easily access and view pornographic content without any problem. The damage it has had on the students is great and with disastrous consequences. For instance, the ability of the student to concentrate in class has been greatly hampered with as the student is most inclined to start viewing everything in a sexual manner; even in course where the teacher is a female teacher, the male student will be undressing her during the lesson. This then interferes with the proper learning of the student. Another effect of watching pornography has to do with the erosion of the moral fiber of the society. Most of rape cases reported have involved perpetrators who are school drop-outs and who are used to watching pornography. It is evident therefore that a student who watches a lot of pornography cannot perform optimally in class and has questionable character and in most cases becomes a social misfit.
Finally, another way in which technology affects the discipline, honesty, and social existence of a student has to do with the issue of academic dishonesty among students. This refers to the inability associated with many students to think on their own and therefore with a habit of relying on the work done by other people and available on the web. The sad truth is that this inability does not only relate to students when they are doing their assignments, but goes all the way to the time when they are doing their tests and examinations. In other words, technology has led to increase in cases of examination cheating and thus academic dishonesty among students. The problem here is that the cheating does not just begin and end in classrooms, but rather continues well beyond the classroom into the real world. This results in the lack of trust towards the student and, hence, he or she cannot be trusted much in real life. Consequently, technology has a considerable effect on the overall character, discipline, honesty, and social co-existence of the student.
In conclusion, it is undeniable that the positive impacts that technology has on the overall by far outweigh any negative effects that may be associated with technology. However, this does not mean that such negative effects on the student have to be overlooked for the greater good that technology brings in education. While technology has been used as a great tool for advancing the goals of education, it has acted to impede the advancement and attainment of the very goals of education. The distractive effect that it has on students is a problem that seems to lack a proper solution, while the emergence of different learning and teaching styles fails to take into account pertinent questions related to the training of students. Similarly, the impact on the discipline, character, honesty, and social existence of a student cannot be wished away. It is important therefore to find ways how these negative aspects of technology can be addressed and dealt with in a manner that ensures the gains of technology are not eroded.