Though not ones to judge (as we have all been slaves to our own devices), technology addition is a very real issue. I know that, at a mere ten years old, I was just barely able to hold onto an iPad three times the size of my hands on my way back home from school. Today, we are part of a society where it feels normal and natural to be typing up an AP Lang memoir on a computer while texting a friend about how the chem test went. By now, our use of technology has been normalized. This is only the beginning. Every passing minute of our lives, there is a group of engineers working on AI for self-driving cars, windows that double as solar panels, or even a fifth-grade student creating extended fingers out of gloves, parachute cords, and pipes to help him with his yard chores. SAS is no exception to this trend.
Schools across the globe have been implementing a multitude of devices to enhance and strengthen our learning abilities and skills – considered today’s more relevant form of learning – and more are continuing to jump on the same train. I remember when I was only in sixth grade at SAS and my English teacher first rolled in a cart of computers, telling us we would now be using them every day in class. This is even more prominent for our current elementary and middle school kids exposed to these devices at increasingly younger ages.
So, how did it all start? In an interview, when asked how the incorporation of devices as learning tools was first introduced at SAS, Mr. Green, an education technology coordinator at SAS for 12 years, confirmed that the basic idea was “authenticity and relevance.” The real goal of utilizing devices, he says, was “to put professional tools in the hands of students to create the professional world where everybody is heading – to make our world look like the real world.” According to Mr. Green, when the middle school went head-on with the laptops, 85% of the middle school parents had already purchased a personal device for their child.
“It was already happening. It was already real…what we did was bring some structure into it and say this is your learning device.” —Patrick Green, SAS Ed. Tech Coordinator
So yes, at SAS, most people would agree that the large majority of students are somewhat mature and responsible enough to know how to manage the use of their devices. SAS students have been pushed out of their comfort zones and designed incredible projects which most likely wouldn’t have been possible without their laptops or phones. These devices, have helped us students to really explore the possibilities of “unlimited creativity” in our minds, and we’ve only just started.
Because most of our work is incredibly reliant on the use of technology, we often find it impossible to turn back. Even taking a short break from the online world is a difficult task. Are these devices prohibiting some students from reaching their full potential?
“No,” says Mr. Green, “I don’t believe we are hurting anyone.” He challenged me to think of a world without any devices. Consider: “if you didn’t have a device, and you thought of any field, like art. A person who goes through learning art with only a pencil and paper is far behind a kid who is learning to use Photoshop to layer different things and bring in other textures and explore photography and hand sketches. You’re so far behind.” Dillon Morgan, a junior at SAS, explores a slightly different light: “I think it’s really up to the person or individual. I know a lot of people who use Facebook or are off-task during class, but it’s really up to them how they use their time with their computers and if they want to learn the material.”
So, can our abuse of technology be justified by our greed and desire to develop our skills and capacity for learning? Well… I’ll leave that up to you to decide. No one knows what the future of SAS or our society as a whole has in store for us. The only thing we can do at this moment observe, learn, and try to keep up in hopes that the latest innovations and learning tools don’t pass us by.