Innovation, modernization: to tech or not to tech

Emlyn Langlieb and Anna Mason

Junior Riley Smith was not surprised that 64 percent of students want computers, according to an anonymous pen-and-paper survey of 241 students in English classes.

“If you had the option, why wouldn’t you want a computer?” Smith said.

Whether Dulaney receives laptops next year or not is still being debated by the Board of Education, which voted March 6 to defer a vote over a one-to-one device program to students and staff to the next Board meeting April 3. The program would provide 133,000 devices to elementary and high schools and would be implemented in September 2018.

Some students are skeptical of the benefits of potentially gaining new technology next year, especially in the face of other problems at Dulaney.

“It is a waste of money and resources. [The money could go to a] new school, like they said they were going to,” senior Hyogun Yu said.

According to the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, the first-year cost for new devices would be $11.2 million.

After social studies Department Chair Thomas Maranville talked to his Advanced Placement psychology class about the prospect of having laptops next year, a number of students responded with discontent.

“Overwhelmingly, it is kids [asking], ‘Has anybody asked us what we want’?” Maranville said

According to a study conducted by Professor Rosen of California State University, an expert in the field of technology addiction, high school students can only concentrate for an average of three minutes, with the typical person checking his or her phone about 60 times a day.

Science teacher Martin Stranathan recognizes the interruptions that technology can cause in the classroom.

“There is very little research to support that laptops actually increase student achievement, in fact it is probably more of a distraction for students,” Stranathan said. “Honestly, I think the money could be better spent.”

Technology teacher Damon George is concerned about Dulaney’s readiness to implement new technology, despite any academic advantages it may provide.

“My concern isn’t that it’s going to negatively impact students, the question is are we equipped as a school to bring in this technology, are we ready to use it, are we ready to bring it into instruction responsibly and appropriately?” George said. “But, I don’t think there are any negatives that are going to outweigh the positives on academics.”

Furthermore, teachers and students do acknowledge the benefits of obtaining laptops in an increasingly technology-driven world.

“It is another resource that we could use,” Smith said. “We are eventually going to have technology in the classroom, so why not just start it now.”

Additionally, English teacher Deborah Hamilton recognized the benefit with students who do not have computers at home. But she also notes the potential drawbacks.

“My fear would be if they don’t come charged or if they’re broken, or if we begin to rely too much for a lesson on it, and kids don’t have them available,” Hamilton said. “I think that would be a problem.”

Overall, both teachers and students, who see both the pros and cons of pursuing new technology, emphasize the importance of responsibility and readiness.

“People can’t even take homework home and then back to school, why would they be able to take a laptop?” junior Ana Goode said.

Staff writers Patrick Dochat and Audrey Houghton, and editor-in-chief Dorrie Gaeng contributed to this report.

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