Digital Technology in PGA
Dear PGA High School Board Members,
As a student who recently graduated from your high school in Beijing, China, I have been asked to evaluate the use of technology in your school last year. In PGA, technology was commonly used in classrooms, dining commons, dormitories, and also in the library. Computers, projectors, and platforms on the internet are all useful technologies that help student’s learning ability. On the other hand, I think the school’s decision to limit the time students spend with digital technologies is a wise educational choice, because cell phones tend to show negative distractions toward students. To keep a phone-free study environment increased interactions between students, and also ensured the quality of classes and also increased student’s attention spans. From my perspective, digital technologies that are used in PGA seem to have more positive impacts on student’s learning ability.
Technologies PGA were using for educational purpose seem to improve student’s learning ability because they improved learning efficiency. Because PGA provides a computer and a projector in every classroom, it’s very convenient for teachers to use the resources. Nearly every teacher in PGA uses PowerPoint for lectures because it has many benefits. Teachers are able to show many other sources rather than merely the textbook by using PowerPoint, which allows teachers to present the lecture in a more clear and interesting way. Furthermore, rather than highlighting sentences on text book, a PowerPoint lecture require students to take notes which leads to a repetition in memorizing main ideas. In this way, using computers to give lectures helps students to understand knowledge easier and to memorize it better. (Weimer, 2012) Also, it’s sometimes essential for students to use computers and other technologies. PGA provides computers labs which contain more than 80 computers for students to use. Because students in PGA all aim to study abroad in college, all these computers really help when preparing for TOEFL. During self study time, teacher would arrange students in different classes to go to computer labs to prepare TOEFL test by taking TPO, a software simulates TOEFL. In this way, students have guaranteed time to prepare for the test without using their own computers, which are difficult to control and might become distractions. Furthermore, technology also improves student’s learning ability in biology class. Microscopes and projectors allow students to observe the teacher, and to study objects by themselves. Without a projector, it’s very hard to see what the teacher is doing especially when a student is sitting in the back rows. In this way, digital technologies have increased the efficiency and productivity of study.
Besides help students learning in class, technology in PGA also supervise students on their study. PGA online platform allows students to access course materials after class, so they can study on themselves. Students can submit work or discuss with classmates after class on the platform and students can finish the exercises or work on the website. Because students are submitting homework to the online platform, teachers can easily manage and record student’s behavior. I also noticed that students tend to do homework more carefully and paid more attention to them because they think they were being supervised by the platform, which is recording all their homework and assignment submissions. There are two things in PGA that is different from high school in the USA. First the all, is the use of cctv (cameras) in PGA. Every classroom has two cameras supervising both the teachers and the students. Even though I’ve been told that they might not be operating, I was still very frightened. The cameras eliminated ideas such as cheating during exams or destroy school property and lying. During the exam, even if the supervisor is not in the classroom, students of PGA wouldn’t act improperly due to their own honesty and the presence of cameras.
However, digital technology also has many negative impacts on student’s learning ability. First of all, digital technologies are big distractions to students when studying. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc, there are so many things on the Internet that students usually spend plenty of their time on. When studying, students are easily disrupted by the temptation of video games, thus forgetting to focus on the classes or learning materials. During self study time in the computer lab, I’ve seen students play CS (a shooting game) secretly so many times and those students didn’t achieve a high grade on the TOEFL test. The fundamental reason is that digital technologies have attracted so much attention which leads to the decrease of efficiency when doing homework. To sum up, high school students are easily disrupted by technologies and are not paying enough attention to work. On the other hand, some students may found video games relaxing during their study, and might relieve their stress by playing some video games. In this way, we can’t say that video games are totally harmful to students. What’s more, computers are also a preparation for student’s future studies. Some educators argue that it’s the school’s responsibility to provide students essential skills for technologies they would use after graduation. (Means, Singh) Every coin has two sides, at the same time we admit its own strength, we have to also admit the disadvantage. But we can still decide which the brighter side is and encourage people to do it. In this case, I think it’s necessary for high schools nowadays to provide technologies on campus as an important resource for students.
The overall consequences of digital technology to students are considered positive because technologies in school really work effective to help teaching and learning. However, high school students are not highly self-controlled population who need more guidance on the use of digital technology which would distract them from work and classes. I think the yellow/pink ticket punishment our school has taken was extremely powerful and effective. As soon as we know that every time we use our phones during class we got a yellow ticket which related to point losing and three yellow tickets are the same as a pink ticket, which relates to probation on class, most students stopped playing cell phones in class. If I were to revise the policy, I would suggest teachers to walk around more during self-study time to ensure that students are really taking practices on the computer instead of doing other things. Certain punishment should be taken if students are found doing impropriate things.