By Sean Quigley and Cayden Tsai
The use of technology in Summit Denali High School has both limited its ability to educate through distractions caused by noneducational content and repetition of use and benefited its ability to educate by making both learning and managing education more convenient.
According to a study from Cambridge University, around 48% of all students globally use desktop computers in the classroom. With modern education’s reliance on technology slowly increasing, the various benefits and limitations technology can bring to education have begun to emerge.
The limitations and benefits technology can have on education can be seen clearly in Summit Denali, a charter school located in Sunnyvale, Calif. Summit Denali belongs to a network of charter schools with an almost entirely online curriculum making it a perfect place to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of school faculty and students’ interactions with technology.
A way technology can limit education at Summit Denali is by distracting students. “When you have technology in a classroom, I think that you have to think about the maturity level of the students that are using that technology,” Summit Denali Modern World One teacher Sven Engvall said. “Oftentimes it can serve as a distraction that keeps you away from learning rather than bringing you closer to learning.”
A specific way technology can distract from education at Summit Denali is by giving students access to non-educational applications and search engines such as Chrome and Safari.
Summit Denali sophomore Terrence Cookson thinks that technology has hindered his ability to stay focused. He said, “You can do a million things with a computer and it’s as simple as clicking open a new tab to open YouTube or something.”
Some students have reported the repetitiveness of working on computers can be mentally draining. When asked how an online curriculum affected his ability to learn, Cookson said, “Everyone’s just sitting there with their little computers and just doing stuff and it’s kind of the same thing every single day.”
But technology does not solely limit education in Summit Denali. It can also help make learning more convenient than in a less technology-based classroom. “It gives people the ability to research things and understand current events in a much more applicable way than just hearing about something in a textbook,” Engvall said.
Technology can also benefit education by making the jobs of faculty more streamlined. When asked how technology affected her ability to manage the school, Summit Denali Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Laura Zado said, “I would say technology improves my ability to manage the school because it allows me to get insight into how students and teachers are doing really quickly and really efficiently.”
However, it should be noted the technology used to monitor education at Denali is limited at times. As Zado said, “What’s on the platform for example does not tell the whole picture of how a class is going or how a student is doing, so there are obviously limitations to what technology can tell us.”
In the end, most faculty and students at Summit Denali agree there are various pros and cons in using technology for education. As Engvall said, “I would make sure that we have a lot less of it in the classroom and it’s only used when we need it.”