“Nothing wrong with a pen and paper, who needs all this fancy technology?” – kids do!

I (and I imagine the majority of you reading this blog) haven’t ever known anything other than modern technology; the existence of computers and the use of the internet. We have grown up with it! But it almost seems to me as though we were discouraged from using it during school (not so much at university). Don’t get me wrong – we had ICT lessons and we did use computers to type up some work and do a bit of browsing, but as I remember: we were forbidden to take mobile phones and other gadgets to school. Computers were only allowed to be used under a teacher’s supervision and even then we could only use specific websites.. social network sites were a definite no-no! We constantly had to scribble notes down as the teachers were talking, “Nothing wrong with a pen & paper, who needs all this fancy technology?” they use to say. We were also told about core text-books we had to buy, what about core websites to browse???

Why weren’t we encouraged to use modern technology at school? Teachers could really take advantage of all the features of modern technology in order to teach children. By incorporating podcasts (kids are always glued to their ipods anyway, why not give them something useful to listen to), text messages, social media sites, emails, apps etc into their class modules.

Bolliger, Supanakorn and Boggs (2010) found that students were more motivated to learn with podcasts and it was an effective learning method for students studying at a distance. This could be applied to children who missed a school day due to sickness; it could also be applied to helping children with homework. Also, Fernandez, Simo and Sallan (2009) found that podcasting increased student’s motivation due to the constant contact between students and teachers, they also suggest that podcasting is a powerful tool but should be used in addition to classes and not instead of. Again this could be applied to out of school work; students could use the podcast for help with homework or revision.

Furthermore, we all know that kids can’t tear themselves away from social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. So why not use this as another tool for learning? Edutopia* argue that we should teach children the benefits that social networking technology can have on their education; they can share ideas with peers and ask tips from teachers even when not in school. It may even allow some of the quieter of children’s opinions to be heard, as social networking sites have been found to boost self-esteem (Steinfield, Ellison & Lampe, 2008). If we are going to encourage technology and the social media to children, it is important that rules are put in place in order to prevent cyber bullying and other issues. Classes could be held in school where children are taught how to present themselves appropriately on the internet, just like we learn how to present ourselves appropriately ‘in real life’ (Edutopia). As we know, unfortunately, social-networking isn’t always rainbows and butterflies (especially for children) due to the online-dangers of talking to strangers and cyber bullying etc.  So social network sites made especially for schools such as http://socialmediaforschools.org.uk/ and http://www.twiducate.com/ should be incorporated into more schools. This way the children are still getting the benefits of learning with social network but it is also safe too as only the school community have access to their profiles.

To conclude, people always seem to be complaining about the amount of time kids are spent stuck to their gadgets and updating their Facebook page, but I feel that the education system should take advantage of the modern technology that we are fortunate enough to have, and use it to teach kids. This can be done through the use of; allowing them to search on the internet instead of having to learn from the same book that their grandparents probably used at school, using podcasts alongside of class, creating apps for mobile phones and encouraging social-network (safely).

Thanks for reading. Sorry it’s such an essay – I got a bit carried away with my chatting!


Ps. I wrote most of this blog post whilst on the train, proof that modern technology is awesome – you can work anywhere without having to lug around books and worrying about running out of ink in a pen!



Bolliger, D. U., Supanakorn, S., & Boggs, C. (2010). Impact of podcasting on student motivation in the online learning environment. Computers & Education,55(2), 714-722.

Fernandez, V., Simo, P., & Sallan, J. M. (2009). Podcasting: A new technological tool to facilitate good practice in higher education. Computers & Education53(2), 385-392.

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology29(6), 434-445.


8 thoughts on ““Nothing wrong with a pen and paper, who needs all this fancy technology?” – kids do!

  1. sillybean91 says:

    I agree with your argument completely, why not embrace the technical revolution, education is one of the only industries not fully embrace technology and its advantages.

    One aspect of technology you mentioned to be beneficial was podcasting. Boulos et al (2006) argues podcasts are useful because it can be paced. At any point the podcast can be paused or replayed, this helps students to clarify information or even research an aspect of the recording in more depth, can you imagine stopping a lecturer half way through a lecture to google some term? Podcast merge the experiential narrative of the traditional lecturing system with active self regulated learning. Magg (2006) suggested that the benefit of podcasting is being able to take information with you via mp3. Portable information is a great advance in education as it allows increased exposure to information, evidence suggest that the more students are exposed to information the better the recall (Krugman, 2000). If podcasts and other technologies encourage independent learning with benefits such as exposure. Overall podcasts provide a significant benefit to students and schools.

  2. psuca7 says:

    It’s incredible how much the world has changed even since when we were young; technology has taken over! You made the point that podcasting increases student’s motivation and I thoroughly agree with you. Salman Khan – who I mention in my own blog this week – tutored his cousins and found that they preferred a “video version” of his classes as opposed to a one-on-one session in the same room! Using videos and podcasts – as sillybean91 said – enables students to learn at their own pace; instead of the whole class moving on to something new before every individual has managed to catch up, a student can pause to take a breather.
    It would be great if there was an online teacher-student chat site where students could pose questions in a forum and teachers/lecturers could respond to the whole group (much like we have on Facebook with our module groups, but something other than Facebook).
    Lectures may be good to give an overview of the topic, but podcasts and videos are generally preferred (Williams & Farndon, 2007). However, a problem surfaces when we have both lectures and podcasts available to students; Scutter, Stupans, Sawyer and King (2010) found that if students new beforehand that there would be a podcast version of the lecture available, they were more likely to skip the lecture. Is there a way we can have both? Or is the lecture theatre becoming extinct?

  3. Steph's Blog says:

    I really like the idea of bringing technology to life in schools and podcasts would of been handy when it comes to revising but then you have the issue of some children not having computers or new technology at home and it would be unfair if they could not access podcasts etc. Having said that I found online that in 2012 80% of households in Great Britain had internet access according to the office for national statistics (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2012/stb-internet-access–households-and-individuals–2012.html). One solution could be to have computer labs in schools or in towns that are free for students.
    I would also argue that the textbook way of learning is very outdated and new means of teaching need to take place such as more practical hands on experience and the use of interactive technology. Score (2009b) argue that teachers in science prefer the hands on approach and suggest that more practicals in class are benefical. (http://www.score-education.org/downloads/practical_work/report.pdf)
    I think it’s definately time for education to change and adjust the way of learning to incorporate more technology and practical hands on experiences!

  4. Sinae says:

    Thanks for raising the issue of students potentially skipping lectures & the possibility of lectures being extinct, Psuca7. The impact technology may have on student absence (of course for non-compulsory education) isn’t something that I originally consider in my post. Grabe, Christopherson and Douglas (2005) investigated the impact technology has on attendance and they found that students who had access to lecture notes online did not correlate with missing classes. Instead it was found that students who paid attention to the online notes written by the lecturer (whilst still attending lectures) actually performed better on exams compared to those who did not read the additional online notes. However, Massingham and Herrington (2006) found contrasting results when investigating the impact of online audio recordings. After asking students why they would skip a class, 68.3% reported that they could learn just as effectively using the podcasts. It could be considered that online recordings are more effective than online written notes, maybe because reading is deemed as “more effort” for the students than just listening. Due to this, I think it is important that podcasts and online materials are used as tools for revision, outside of class assignments and students who were unable to attend class due to illness (maybe only allowing podcast on request or after the lecture could be considered an option??).

    Grabe, M., Christopherson, K., & Douglas, J. (2005). Providing introductory psychology students access to online lecture notes: The relationship of note use to performance and class attendance. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 33(3), 295-308
    Massingham, P., & Herrington, T. (2006). Does attendance matter? An examination of student attitudes, participation, performance and attendance.Journal of university teaching & learning practice, 3(2), 3.

  5. psuc0e says:

    I completely agree – technology is here. It should be embraced and used by schools as it can offer a whole new angle on the topics being covered, and even used to get instant feedback.

    Japan seems to be a frontrunner with this, implementing QR codes into lessons so, midway through the lesson, pupils can use their mobile phones/iPads etc. to scan the QR code and take them to a video, website, question or feedback form which is instantly sent to the teacher (Susono & Shimonura, 2006). Techniques like this could be easily implemented to add an interactive element to the classroom, making use of the technology that is readily available. If we develop the points raised in the comment from Steph, codes like this could be easily implemented in text books and science lessons giving children link to demonstrations that the school may not have the resources to put on, such as chemical reactions in science lessons. Admittedly, I would much prefer a hands on approach, not watch a video but at times, I guess needs must.

    Research also shows that mobile learning in school not only increases learning away from the school, but has been shown to significantly increase the engagement and learning in comparison to traditional methods of learning (Tan-Hsu Tan, 2004).

    So yeah, you’re spot on Sinae – the technology that is readily available and in our pockets should absolutely be used to help with teaching and learning – it can only be a good thing!

    ps. There’s a school up the road from me who has just given all of its year 6 students an iPod touch to do research on, and I’ve heard of other schools who have the set with a function to contact their teacher directly via email so if they have any issues, they can get in touch straight away. Not the progress that is needed, but certainly a step in the right direction!

  6. zuckza says:


    Awesome blog 🙂 I totally agree with all your sentiments. I attended the conference held here in Bangor where Stephen Heppell was the keynote speaker. His presentation was amazing, touching upon the importance of environment for learning.. but instead of calling upon psychologists, the kids performed all the research themselves, about themselves through the use of modern technology! He described a very ‘new age world’ for education through technology by describing basically what Jesse did in our first session.. that teachers should be facilitators and not controllers of education (Heppell, 1993).
    Kent & McNergney (1998) discussion in their book, ‘Will Technology Really Change Education? From Blackboard to Web’ gives a really good arguement for the strengths and weaknesses (mainly strengths!) surrounding technology in the educational setting.
    You’re definitely right in saying the majority schools haven’t implemented technology in the way they could but carrying out my dissertation in a local school it astonished me how much ‘cooler’ the primary school classroom was since I was at school. They have SMART boards (which genuinely I think are SMARTer than me!) and one day after some of the children had finished what we needed them for, they continued writing their WEBSITES! I only learnt how to use google scholar 3 years ago!

    Heppell, S. (1993) Teacher Education, Learning and the Information Generation: the progression and evolution of educational computing against a background of change, Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education Volume 2, Issue 2, pages 229-237 (1993)

    Kent, T. & McNergney, R. (1998) Will Technology Really Change Education? From Blackboard to Web, Corwin Press, CA, 1998.

  7. tristanfialko says:

    Although I appreciate that educational methods need to remain modern, and new technologies can be great aids to learning, I do feel that incorporating social media websites like facebook and Twitter may be taking it a step too far.

    You wrote: ‘..kids can’t tear themselves away from social network sites… So why not use this as another tool for learning?’ Do you not agree that the fact that children are spending so much time infront of computer screens is a negative thing? Surely we should be encouraging them to develop themselves in ‘real life’, to comunicate through actual speech rather than words typed onto a screen. Socially networking via the internet filters out social cues and, for people of younger ages, can hinder the natural development of actual communication.

    Social media websites are a fairly new development in the grand scheme of things, and the long-term psychological effects of using such websites as an interaction replacement are unable to be determined yet. Hence I think we should perhaps wait to make sure that having facebook and Twitter style websites as part of children’s educational structure doesn’t hinder their mental development before implementing it.

    For most social networking websites, you must be at least 13 to create your account anyway.
    Enjoyed your blog! Sorry if I seemed critical.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s