There is a certain feeling associated with holding a worn, leather-bound book and carefully turning its textured pages that I just don’t get while clutching a cold and fragile tablet. There is a certain depth and weight to books that create a sensation of trust between the author and reader that I don’t get while reading anonymous information online. I am opposed to the idea of replacing traditional books and paper with electronic devices.
But in a classroom aimed to prepare me and my fellow students for our future careers in a world where everything is constantly flowing through a racing stream of information, technology seems like a more practical alternative to me.
I’ll confess—curling up in bed with a tablet will never bring me the same feeling of comfort, serenity, or bliss as a hefty book. But in an English class, where I can flag and quickly locate passages, record audio responses, and even link to specific passages in other texts, a tablet proves to be an incredible convenience. My tablet has every historical text, every philosophy assignment, and every page of notes I need for my classes. I can send my essays, outlines, stories, emails, and websites to my teachers at any time, anywhere, and receive videos, recordings and handwritten comments that make me feel as if I had met with them in person.
In my foreign language classes, we record ourselves reading lengthy passages and send them to our teachers in order to avoid wasting class time listening to everyone one-by-one. I can listen to dialogues and watch short films in order to grow accustomed to hearing others speak French.
These tools not only give me a chance to hear myself speak, but also give me the unique opportunity to correct my own pronunciation.
In my science classes, the tablet allows me to use the latest available technology for handson projects: I can easily organize, graph, sort through and draw conclusions from the data I gather. In math, on the other hand, I can watch as a function rotates about its axis or is sliced into circular cross sections, instead of struggling to visualize it.
As our students move into the world of work, their ability to manipulate technology to their advantage will prove to be crucial.
I don’t believe in completely replacing the traditional with the new. However, if we slowly incorporate these devices into our classrooms, we will grow accustomed to them, obtaining a necessary skill to survive in the modern world.
There is a certain feeling associated with writing in a journal—an uneasiness that, sooner or later, the pages will run out—that I don’t get while working with technology. The possibilities seem endless.