By Tyler Medeiros
Grade 9 students in eight Ontario high schools were given a Chromebook last month, which is theirs to keep for the rest of their high school years.
The Google-powered laptops, which are to be used in the classroom and to do homework, are part of a two-year pilot project. All tests, assignments and lessons will be online, and teachers are receiving training on how to properly use these devices in the classroom.
With the addition of these Chromebooks, all students will be on an equal footing in school, at least that is the idea. However, there are some concerns. With this technology comes new responsibility that these students have never had before. Teachers will now have the added problem of trying to keep their students on task and not playing games online or checking social media. With a computer in front of them all day, the temptation to do anything other than schoolwork is much higher. Teachers will need to have some way of regulating the classroom, but with 20 or more students with their own devices, this will be hard.
I feel, although this is a great leap toward equality between the economic classes, it will most likely be nothing but trouble. These students, who are only 14 and 15, will be shown that they only need to sit behind a screen to learn. So, with all of their lessons posted online, why not slack off in class?
With the ability to chat with their classmates online while they pretend to take notes will be nothing but distracting for those who are trying to actually learn the day’s lesson.
On the positive side, students who are shy can more freely express themselves and be involved in online activities because they feel safer talking though chats than in person. But, at the same time this will most likely hurt the social aspect of the classroom. Normally students would have discussions and debates in class. Now most of this will be transformed into written work that they submit and reply to.
Some people are saying that these new devices make the teacher redundant; with access to the information online the students could be given any topic and self-educate using platforms like YouTube to find videos on how to solve math equations or the history of Canada’s formation. This would leave teachers answering questions when they arise and to grade and assign work.
I think the quest to create an equal educational field is a noble one. I just hope students embrace it, and a better learning environment is the end result.