Even while teachers acknowledge the opportunities technology has brought to the classroom, they are conflicted about its full effects, according to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The conflict is clearly evident in the numbers. Majorities believed that technology has had both positive and negative impacts; 77 percent of those surveyed said that the internet had a “mostly positive” impact, while 87 percent said that the technology has created an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” Sixty-four percent said it does “more to distract students than to help them academically.”
The biggest impact of the internet and other digital tools has been on how students do research. Search engines have made a wealth of knowledge available, even to those with few other resources. But it has also fundamentally changed the way that students go about doing their research — and not necessarily for the better, some teachers believe. Large majorities of teachers believe that the ease of the internet may make students lazy in how they conduct research. There is a concern that students will not search for information that is not easily found on Google, will not be able to distinguish between credible sources and not so credible ones, and will never learn how to do research from a variety of sources.
For these reasons, almost half of teachers — 47 percent — strongly agree with the idea of incorporating digital literacy into school curriculums. Though the survey was limited to K-12 teachers, courses on digital literacy would come in useful at the college level, as well. Today’s college students went to elementary school in the time of almanacs and encyclopedias, and many have likely never had any real training with the technology they now use every day.