Is technology helpful or hurtful to the modern student?
By Vilde Wessel Ljungberg
More or less every student at university today will have some kind of relationship with technology. Alongside Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media apps, technology is also having an impact in more academic contexts. Most students by now should be well acquainted with both Moodle and Turnitin – possibly their college emails (but not really using it). While this is all well and good, and technology surely has some positive influence on our daily lives, there seems to be a certain dark side to it all. With the exception of courses that focus solely on technology, or courses that require students to use certain software, there appears to be an increased amount of unnecessary technology being used at university. This has a detrimental effect on the student body, in my opinion.
The first thing that comes to mind is the countless issues with online teaching tools—such as the aforementioned Turnitin. Using such a volatile page to handle time-sensitive things like essays is hardly ideal. When people have submitted physical copies with good margin, but the internet goes on holiday, or the page just stops working all together. This usually results in the essay being marked as late. Royal Holloway has also been quite good at shovelling the blame for this on the student, saying that we should have handed it in earlier. Maybe this is true; but had the requirement only been a physical copy, the problem would have been non-existent in the first place.
As well as this, the use of computers and tablets in class seems to cause a bit of a problem for everyone involved. For people with dyslexia and the like, using a computer to write is of course the easiest thing; but for everyone else it seems to become more a tool of distraction than anything else. The trend of writing on a computer has actually had the result of almost a whole generation with handwriting like chicken-scratch. With readily available Wi-Fi in all academic buildings, it is not difficult to suddenly find oneself browsing through Facebook, or updating your Amazon Wishlist instead of paying attention. This is not only detrimental to the student themselves, but also the other students. Not to mention, the teacher who has to deal with half of the classroom acting like apathetic vegetables, a drowsy smile paired with a vacant stare into the depths of their screen.
Scrolling through sites like Facebook has actually been found to alter your brain significantly. The action of scrolling induces production of dopamine, as well as shortens your attention span by bombarding you with countless small pieces of information that you don’t have to focus on for a long time. At the same time, this same device that can alter your brain on a concentration level somehow knows exactly what you’re interested in. It’s all pretty dark.
So, I find myself asking: Where are we headed? What are we sacrificing? I suggest we try to distance ourselves a little more from technology before we find ourselves to be completely dependent on it. Just take a step back, maybe sit down with real-life painting tools and watch some Bob Ross – it’s all on YouTube.
Vilde Wessel Ljungberg
Featured image courtesy of The Guardian