Does Technology Help or Hinder the Learning Process?

Technology today has become vital to some areas of our everyday lives, from communicating with friends and family to helping save lives at our local hospitals. Without question technology has benefited many people’s lives. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, go to school, shop and, even pay bills. Technology has also helped students in all grade levels achieve great success in their academic lives. Students can take online classes to improve skills needed to succeed in life beyond high school. Even though technology can be beneficial to the learning process, teenagers today have become dependent upon it which in reality can hinder the learning process

Teenagers today have access to more information than at any other time in history. They can access books and publications on any subject they can think of from space exploration to paper airplanes. Teenagers today have also become dependent on that very technology to keep in touch with friends, socialize and even play games. According to the 2006 High School Survey of Student Engagement when students were asked how many hours per week they spent studying for class/Reading 90 % said five hours or less and 55 % said one hour or less. However 31 % said they watched television or play video games six hours per week and 25 % said they spent at least six hours minimum surfing and chatting online. This technology dependency has disrupted the teenage learning process. Integrating technology into the classroom has had little to no effect whatsoever on academic progress amongst teenagers. “Among 17-year-olds, 80 percent of students performed at or above level 250 in 2008; 39 percent performed at or above level 300; and 6 percent were able to learn from specialized reading materials as described for level 350. For all three levels the percentages of students in 2008 did not differ significantly from the percentages in 2008 or 1971.” (No significant change for 17-year-olds at any performance level www.nces.edu.gov/nationsreportcard).

The following gives the different reading performance-level descriptions:
Reading Performance-Level Descriptions;
Level 350: Learn from Specialized Reading Materials
Readers at this level can extend and restructure the ideas presented in specialized and complex texts. Examples include scientific materials, literary essays, and historical documents. Readers are also able to understand the links between ideas, even when those links are not explicitly stated, and to make appropriate generalizations. Performance at this level suggests the ability to synthesize and learn from specialized reading materials.

Level 300: Understand Complicated Information
Readers at this level can understand complicated literary and informational passages, including material about topics they study at school. They can also analyze and integrate less familiar material about topics they study at school as well as provide reactions to and explanations of the text. Performance at this level suggests the ability to find, understand, summarize, and explain relatively complicated information.

Level 250: Interrelate Ideas and Make Generalizations
Readers at this level use intermediate skills and strategies to search for, locate, and organize the information they find in relatively lengthy passages and can recognize paraphrases of what they have read. They can also make inferences and reach generalizations about main ideas and the author’s purpose from passages dealing with literature, science, and social studies. Performance at this level suggests the ability to search for specific information, interrelate ideas, and make generalizations.

Level 200: Demonstrate Partially Developed Skills and Understanding
Readers at this level can locate and identify facts from simple informational paragraphs, stories, and news articles. In addition, they can combine ideas and make inferences based on short, uncomplicated passages. Performance at this level suggests the ability to understand specific or sequentially related information.

Level 150: Carry Out Simple, Discrete Reading Tasks
Readers at this level can follow brief written directions. They can also select words, phrases, or sentences to describe a simple picture and can interpret simple written clues to identify a common object. Performance at this level suggests the ability to carry out simple, discrete reading tasks. (No significant change for 17-year-olds at any performance level www.nces.edu.gov/nationsreportcard).

In the words of Mark Bauerlin “They have all the advantages of modernity and democracy, but when the gifts of life lead to social joys, not intellectual labor the minds of the young plateau at age 18.” In a 2007 Pew survey on “What American Know: 1989-2007” 56 % of 18- to 29-year-olds possessed low knowledge levels and only 22 % of 50- to 64-year-olds had low knowledge levels. The advantages of greater access and education that today’s teenagers have does not show in intellectual outcomes. Consider this, at the age of 18 a child has been alive for 158,000 hours 14,000 of those hours are spent at school. This is only 9 % of their lives now also consider what it means to their education if the remaining 91 % of that time is spent on activities cross-purpose to the value and lessons of school. There are currently two major problems that employers and college administrators are facing today. One, the high level of graduates entering the workplace with inadequate reading, and writing skills. Two, the excessive number of freshmen entering college that ends up in remedial courses.

Students and teenagers today are fully equipped with both the technology and information they need to get the most out of their educations. The dependency they have upon their cellular phones, game consoles, computers and social networks can have a devastating impact on their intellectual growth and development. “As they give in online, teenagers’ peer consciousness expands while their historical understanding, civic awareness and taste go dormant before they have even had much chance to develop.” (Generation Text; The dark digital ages: 13 to 17. Mark Bauerline). Even though technology can help bring teens together for a common cause and provides the tools needed to become self sufficient, proactive young adults it can also be thing that hinders their learning process.