Ontario Tech University
This chapter analyzes the negative impact on students when using technology in higher education classrooms. In addition to this, it looks at how educators can balance the use of technology in higher education classrooms to avoid these impacts, and the implications they can make in the curriculum to promote healthy use of technology. This paper will focus on highlighting the cons of technology use in the classroom. According to research, there has been an increase in mental health issues amongst students which has led to anxiety, depression, and challenges with learning, which are associated with their use of technology (Lynch, 2018). Using technology for academic purposes is a major distraction for students, making it hard for them to multitask. According to research, students are not the only ones who feel a sense of stress or anxiety when having to learn to use technology in the classroom. During the pandemic, “many instructors experienced stress when learning new technology and having to work extra hours” (Sharaievska et al., 2022). Teaching students how to use technology efficiently is an integral role of every educator, however, educators need to lead by example when it comes to using technology within the classroom. They should avoid excessive use of technology within the classroom when students are working individually, especially for the use of email or even instant messaging a colleague. With technology offering many benefits to educators and students experience of learning, helping students find a medium between a healthy usage of technology compared to the negative impacts it may cause is extremely essential.
higher education, digital citizen, instructional approaches
The use of technologies has increased in every classroom within higher education. With instructors integrating different aspects of their lessons using computers to support their students, the impact is often forgotten. According to research, many students “don’t easily gain proficiency with computer technologies” (McCoy, 2010). During the pandemic, students had no choice but to complete their classes online, without having any experience. One student mentioned that staring at a computer all day gave them a massive headache daily (Moralista, 2020). Obviously, these types of illnesses can lead to bigger issues. In addition to this, students within higher education may feel intimidated when they are introduced to the use of technology, especially if they have no prior experience. While teachers use technology within lessons, it is essential that they are aware of the negative impacts it leaves on students within higher education.
The use of technologies in higher education classrooms includes both positive and negative impacts. Although the positive impacts outweigh the negative ones, it is important that the negatives are not disregarded because they can be detrimental. That being said, the major impact students face with having to use social media for the purposes of academics is feeling information overload (Gao et al., 2012). When students are in the process of learning, it is important that they feel they are required to review every material that is being posted. Furthermore, research shows that the use of technologies for the purposes of learning also leaves negative impacts on a student’s skills development and psychological outcomes (Ewelina, 2012). Some skills that may be negatively impacted include the students’ abilities to improve their reading and writing abilities.
Regardless of all the benefits of technology, it is evident that using technology for academic purposes has a harmful effect on students. In addition to this, research shows that these harmful effects lead to detrimental behaviors (Whitaker, 2016). When analyzing the use of technology in classrooms, instructors are put in a tough situation of deciding whether or not to use technologies within the classroom. This chapter will analyze the impact of using technology, regarding information overload, the effects it has on developing certain skills, and suggestions for the use of technologies in the classroom.
No New Instructional Approaches Introduced
Research shows that often times when technology was introduced to the higher education classroom, “they were used to enhance the existing instructional approaches, rather than supplant them” (Flavin, 2016, p.5) For instance, when a lecture was presented with some graphics on the computer, there was no change in the lesson and it was presented in its fundamental form. While this may not seem like a concern, not making any changes to the traditional instructional practices, will have teachers more concerned about the technical aspect rather than the quality of their teaching material (Flavin, 2016, p.5).
Furthermore, it is important for teachers to note that integrating technology into their curriculum and lessons “is not a magic wand” where students will easily remember or understand the material better (Gumport, 2015, p.23)
That being said, it is essential that students within higher education are provided with teaching material that is good quality and most up-to-date. This requires educators to offer high-quality lessons, paying less attention to using technologies in the classroom.
Increases Mental Health Issues
Overexposure and overuse of technologies can cause major mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, suicide, and behavioral issues (Becker, 2015). The findings of the negative impacts of using technologies in the higher education classroom have been increasing throughout the years, making it questionable if using technologies within lessons is commendable or looked down on. For instance, having English language learners use technology in classrooms can make it challenging for them not only have to learn a language but also to learn how to use a computer and technology.
As a result, this can make them feel anxious and overwhelmed, where they are spending more time trying to learn how to work around the technology than the material within the lesson itself.
Educators use technology in the classroom in hopes of improving the academic performance of students. However, using technologies can be seen as distracting where students have a difficult time juggling between learning the material of the lesson and trying to maneuver around having to use technology. According to research, when students have access to laptops in the classroom, they are often juggling with having to multi-task, which reduces their academic performance (Fried, 2008).
That being said, having a balance between students using technology and learning new material wouldn’t lead to a successful learning experience. Therefore, it would probably be better for educators to use technology throughout materials that students are familiar with.
Not being able to introduce new instructional approaches with the use of technologies, increased mental health issues, and a difficult time multi-tasking while using technology in the classrooms are all linked to students having a poor learning experience. That being said, educators within higher education should discuss the impacts while raising awareness among students about these long-term effects. In order to educate students about the negative impacts technology can cause them, it is essential to teach them how to promote a healthy environment, and how to avoid burnout.
Some alternatives other than using technology that teachers can depend on is having students meet in the traditional classroom for meetings, group work and presentations, while not having to manage the use of technology while in class. However, if needed, technology can be used at the student’s own time to have access to course information.
Promoting Students To Be Healthy Digital Citizens
While teaching students how to effectively use digital technologies in an appropriate manner, it is essential to incorporate the negative impacts, especially mental health issues it can cause. To promote students to be healthy digital citizens, encouraging students to step away from technology every 30 minutes or less to avoid feelings of anxiety or depression should be taught.
Having students be aware of these impacts will allow them to have an idea of what over usage of technology can cause them and how to avoid getting to this point of feeling any symptoms of mental health issues. It is important to note that technology that is used amongst students where collaboration is required, such as having them play Kahoot! (2022) is definitely more distracting than technology led by the teacher such as a PowerPoint (Microsoft, 2022) presentation.
While promoting the importance of being a healthy digital citizen, having students complete smaller exercises for multi-tasking between using technology and learning the lesson material will ensure students are confident and comfortable. Research recommends that having a visual reminder and posting it when students are feeling like they can’t multitask because they are distracted by technology, is a healthy way to promote staying on track (Lettrick, 2016).
Another way educators can promote students to be healthy digital citizens is to lead by example. With having the access to technologies at one’s fingertips, it is often easily accessible to respond to emails while teaching a lesson, or messaging another colleague for some information. Trying to avoid these instances will help students realize when technology should be used and when it should not.
Agreement On Using Technology
Educators should have an agreement they present to students in the classroom that elaborates on the importance of certain aspects of using technology. Some protocols they can touch upon are students reaching out to their teachers or fellow colleagues when they feel they cannot figure out how to find something or how to use it. Educators should present this agreement to students before using technology in the classroom to help encourage a healthy learning environment for them.
Conclusions and Future Recommendations
Before using certain technologies in the classroom, it is important for educators and schools to do extensive research on certain computer programs used. This will help them decide if the impacts of these programs are in fact are a positive or negative influence on students. As technology is rapidly changing, it is essential for educators to be constantly aware of the negative impacts it can cause, making it the most important priority.
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