When is using technology appropriate for learning?
Technology is never the answer to an assignment, test, project, or anything in between, but when used correctly, it can be one of the most useful tools to help find the answers.
By this I mean “Googling” the answer to a specific question to see if someone has already done the work is not how students become better learners. Alternatively, technology combined with traditional study methods can help students view learning itself from a different perspective, and get excited about education.
For instance, if a student is struggling with a math assignment, but the only resource they are looking to is an outdated textbook provided by the school, there are many technology-based resources that they can employ to reach their goals. One of my favorites is Wolfram Alpha, a website that will solve math problems for you, but also show you step-by-step how you can come to that conclusion. The important thing to remember is that tools like these are invaluable in getting students excited about education, but should only be used when your student is stumped. Nothing beats old-fashioned pencil and paper when you’re trying to solve a math problem.
Math isn’t the only subject students struggle with, though, and while there may be more online tools to use for math, there is a tool for every subject. By the time students get to high school, they are writing advanced research papers and using Google Scholar like it’s regular Google, and as parents and educators, sometimes these papers and projects become so advanced our proofreading and fact checking isn’t enough. A great tool to help find gaps and potential plagiarism is Grammarly’s online proofreader which searches papers for bad grammar, and diction but also – especially for older students – looks for consistent style and word choice.
There are an number of amazing free tools out there, especially on the internet, that can get students excited about learning and give them the confidence they need to continue being a lifelong learner. But students don’t have these tools on test day and often in real life, so it’s important to limit how much Google makes its way into every study session and use technology sparingly as a boost, never as a crutch.