The New School

The Controversial Role of Technology in Education

New technologies are frequently touted with breathless enthusiasm, where celebrity denizens such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computers extolled the potential of electronic gadgetry to transform lives and change the world. Educators however may be more skeptical of the actual learning benefits from spending scarce dollars on the latest and greatest devices that are aggressively marketed to children, teens, and adults. The role, use, and implementation of technology in the classroom are particularly controversial topics as educational psychology research has produced a body of conflicting evidence on both sides of the issue.

This paper will address the debate of computers in the classroom, explain its importance, and provide a short historical perspective of the problem. The bulk of the discussion will look at the pros and cons of incorporating technology into the classroom. Ten broad areas in technology and educational psychology will be examined in brief here: behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist views of learning; teacher preparation; testing and assessments; academic motivation; neuroscience; students with special needs; comparative education; cultural diversity; complex cognitive processes; and development of the physical, cognitive, and social self. For each area of discussion, relevant theoretical underpinnings and empirical evidence in the relevant literature are included.

Finally, based on this review, a list of ten guidelines for effectively integrating technology into the classroom is presented as a possible solution. The author’s personal stance on the perils and potential of educational technologies conclude the paper.

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