Technology is increasingly commonplace in the college classroom, with the Pew Research Center reporting that nearly 100 percent of college students use the Internet. Smartphones and tablets increase the presence of technology in the classroom even when an instructor doesn't use a computer or require students to bring their computers to class.
Technology can serve as a classroom distraction, as students clamor to text, surf the Internet or post on social networking sites during moments of boredom in a lecture. But this temporary distraction is only the beginning. The Pew Research Center reported in 2012 that 90 percent of teachers believe that technological advances are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans. This adds up to more challenges holding students' attention in class.
Technology makes the fight against college cheating more challenging. No longer do students have to rely on in-person networks or copying off of someone else's paper to cheat. Instead, they can easily text answers to their friends or sneak a peek at their laptop during tests. A host of sites that allow students to pay for access to papers has sprung up, and the ready availability of sites with useful information makes plagiarism more tempting.
Managing a classroom is never easy, but technology makes classroom management more challenging. The University of Texas reports that distractions from cellphones can add to classroom management problems. Professors may have to police student cellphone use, monitoring for distractions, cheating and inappropriate use of technology. A 2013 article in "Faculty Focus" emphasized that professors have to institute novel strategies and policies to avoid technology-related discipline issues in the classroom.
Changes in Research
Classroom technologies make it much easier for students to access online journals, to solicit help on message boards and to send emails to classmates seeking help. But the Pew Research Center reported in 2012 that technology is also changing the way students research, and may be lowering the overall quality of research as well as the effort it requires. Teachers told the Pew Research Center that many college students believe that research consists solely of searching online.
- Community College Journal: Challenges, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Instructional Technology in the Community College Classroom
- U.S. Department of Education: Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students
- The Washington Post: The Problem With Technology In Schools
- Pew Research Center: Teachers Say That for Students Today, Research = Googling
- University of Texas: Classroom Management
- Faculty Focus: Cell Phones in the Classroom -- What's Your Policy?
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.