Reduce Computer Usage within the Classroom?

Say goodbye to paper, screens are taking over

Originally published on November 9th, 2021 by Caroline Lochner, opinions editor

By Daphney Knox

We are finally back in school. The hallways are packed once again, bells are ringing, and yet for some reason, we are still on our computers all day long.

Just yesterday, I was sitting in one of my classes, listening to the drone of a recorded zoom lecture that my teacher had pulled from the depressing recesses of covidcation because she “couldn’t do a better job teaching it again” and thought, “why am I here?”

From the amount of complaints by students regarding the lack of preparation going into this year, I can safely generalize that computer based learning did not work. So let’s figure out how to reduce our dependence on computers in class.

When asked to share her view on the issue, Ballard teacher Ms. Spencer brought up concerns about the environmental impact of using paper. “It just uses so many trees,” she said. But according to feeding, a beaver family consumes 300 trees in just one year. So how, I ask, can WE call ourselves the Ballard Beaver’s if we’re afraid of a little deforestation?? It’s shameful.

Furthermore, when we plug our computers in everyday, that energy comes from dams. So forget about the trees for a minute (of which there are quite a few outside the school), what about fish? Statistically, 15-20% of all fish that pass through the Grand Coulee dam die from the intense water pressure and turbines, or are at the very least, subject to separation via river fragmentation. And if we are so concerned about the lives of a few trees, I can just say from witnessing on countless occasions that the paper towel usage in the restrooms is atrocious. There’s even little stickers on the dispensers that say “remember, these are made from trees!” Does anyone care? Not enough to start air drying.

 So someone’s gotta come up with something better because I’m not buying this environmental excuse. In fact, I think teachers realized how much easier it was to grade on computers rather than collect paper over covid, and play pre recorded video lectures, so it’s carried on through this year. But what about the quality of learning?

  Studies show that hand writing requires a different kind of cognitive processing than typing on a computer–and that this leads to better retention of new information. A study headed by students from UCLA and Princeton, respectively, determined that although students could type more words on a computer, they did a significantly worse job of restating and interpreting the information. So if there is an academic advantage in the reduction of computer usage in the classroom then why are we still using them? When asked to supply her point of view on the issue, SPS substitute Bonnie Lochner brought up concerns about the waste of time computers create. “They either don’t charge, break, or just give kids an easy way to get off task,” she said.

And did you know that “American teenagers spend an “astounding” nine hours a day with digital technology.” Eyesight, mental health–the list of phycological and physical issues stemming from screen time goes on and on.   Now, I’m not saying all technology is a bad thing, I just think that teachers should work to minimize its usage within the classroom, because we obviously know how to use it effectively; it’d be beneficial to learn other things. (Like learning how to learn things in other ways). Because learning other things is what school’s all about.

My point is, if we don’t do something fast, screens will sneakily take over our classes. So the next time your teacher says “ open up your computer!”, speak up! For the fish, your vision, and more importantly, the future of “in person” education.