Because there are so many different ways to home educate, a homeschool parent can easily feel confused as to whether including technology in their educational plan is a good idea. Figuring out the place of technology in your home school can be a difficult task if you’re not sure about the pros and cons. Let’s discuss them further below.
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Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
There are many advantages to having computers and iPads to work on. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased attentiveness and engagement. Having access to online interactive lessons can be more interesting than reading a lesson out of a textbook as children are required to self-direct their learning.
- Students can save where you’re up to and pick up from where you left off next time.
- Computers keep a memory of your mistakes making revision easier. A program like Acellus Academy will give you different programs to help you conquer your weak academic areas.
- Because we use technology in our adult jobs, teaching kids how to use technology responsibly is a necessary thing to do if we want our kids to feel prepared for the real world when they graduate from their homeschool.
Disadvantages of Technology in the Classroom
Technology seems to be most dangerous when it’s overused and when students go off track and look at things that aren’t on topic or positive influences (i.e. Pornography or Candy Crush). In the article, Negative Effects of Technology and the Impact of Technology Overuse, we discuss five disadvantages of technology overuse, which are:
- Wasting time
- Alienation from others due to technology overuse
- The Potential to Sin
If we encourage our children to use technology extensively, we have to be on the lookout to warn them about these disadvantages and protect against addiction, laziness and so on.
Some disadvantages of technology that is relevant to the homeschooling classroom include:
- Relying on technology too extensively. Getting used to only doing things on the computer, and therefore, forgetting how to do things in the real world. i.e. not being able to do a sum without a calculator
- Forgetting how to do things with our hands, because we’d much rather do things on a computer or some other device
- Getting caught up in screen time play which is made to be exciting and addictive, so you forget to spend time doing other important tasks
- More time on screens means less time looking at others in the face, and less time interacting with others around you personally. If this is done too much, it can lead to fewer personal interactions and decreased positive socialization
- Children might argue with parents over when to stop using an iPad or computer. When Mom or Dad asks a child to get off their device, the child often feels frustrated and behaves badly. This may be damaging to the relationship.
Types of Technology in the Classroom
If you choose to use technology in your homeschool classroom, you have many things that may make your life easy. These include:
- Electronic Whiteboards
- Flipped Learning – remote transmission of teachers on video
- 3D Printing
- Desktops, laptops, mobiles, and Ipads
- Television and Netflix
- Computer networking – where teachers can monitor students progress remotely or on their own device and students can also ask teachers questions
- Distance learning
- Virtual field trips – i.e. Using Google Maps to go on a field trip.
Some curricula are designed to be done completely online. Examples of curricula like this are:
Others require a computer or iPad but don’t always need an internet connection. Examples of curricula like this include:
By doing more work online, parents can reduce the paperwork and keep good notes of the progress made.
Three Books That Explain A Little About the Impact of Technology
If you want to know more about the effects of technology, I recommend reading Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
The book outlines how we’ve come to be so interested and addicted to technology. It argues (in a very interesting way) that our world operates more similarly to the novel Brave New World as opposed to the novel Nineteen- Eighty-Four.
Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1984), is a dystopian novel written in 1949 by George Orwell. It anticipates society in 1984 (1984 was about 35 years after the time the book was written) will be controlled by a big brother-like system. Big Brother watches everything everyone does and life is very oppressive. Dissidents are not tolerated. There is war constantly with advanced government surveillance and propaganda.
Brave New World is another dystopian novel published in 1932 by Aldous Huxley. It is mostly set in the future where citizens are manufactured in test tubes and designed to fit into classes of people (like the Indian caste system). Unlike Nineteen-Eighty-Four, people are happy with their lot as they’ve been programmed to be so. They’re sold a lie, but they’re also happy to believe the lie and don’t want to accept the truth even when it’s put before them.
Amusing Ourselves to Death argues our society is more like the latter novel, Brave New World even though a lot of the time we think it might become like Nineteen Eighty-Four. It argues we’re the ones deluding ourselves in apathy – even if the powers that be control it also.
Technology has a place in the homeschool classroom of the 21st century, but we need to be careful about this potent tool. It has a great ability to teach our students well, but it can also ruin their lives if we let it get out of hand.