The Limits of Technology


This page features excerpts from "The Limits of Technology," a scenario created by Kentucky high school student Layne Shelton, and her own reflections on her work.

From paper and pencil to computers, schools are constantly changing.  In the year 2027, the school supply list will get shorter and the line for the eye doctor will get longer.

Three years ago, before school started, my mother and I bought paper, pencils, binders and other supplies. This year, I bought nothing but a folder to hold my scratch paper. If this can happen within three years, think about schools in ten years. I believe desks will be replaced with touch screen computers. Pens will be replaced with a stylus for the screens. The library will be replaced a media center with hundreds of chargers set up. Teachers will no longer be standing in front of the class teaching, rather they will sit behind a computer and make sure students are on track. School lessons on the whiteboard will be replaced with prepaid online programs. Schools will definitely put technology skills into practice!

Describe how you came up with your ideas. 

I began by watching numerous videos about future technology. I saw different products that inventors are trying to make successful. I thought about ways technology has replaced and will continue replacing the things we have today. Thinking about the future is more difficult task then you might think because you are thinking about the unknown.

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While schools in 2027 may seem great, there are negative impacts. First, more students need glasses. Computer Vision Syndrome is a condition caused from staring at a computer screen or other device for extended periods of time. This condition is becoming more common in young kids because they spend more time in front of a computer.

Another negative side effect of the changes in learning is lack of face-to-face communication. Students will feel so safe sitting behind the computer screen that they will not explore the outside world and will talk to their peers only through instant text messaging. Students will lose the ability to communicate well with others, which could also lead them to be less successful in the work force.

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Your scenario explored some of the downsides of technology use in education. How do you think we should and shouldn’t be using technology for learning? What is the right balance, in your opinion?

Don't get me wrong, I believe technology is a great tool, if it is used right. Sitting in front of a computer screen all eight hours of a school day is not right. I believe technology is there to help teachers, not to replace them. Finding a right balance with technology and being “old school” can be tricky but not impossible. For example, instead of sitting in class typing a
paper for an entire class period, try taking ten to twenty minutes of this work time and have students work with others and collaborate on ideas or have one-on-one time with the teacher.

Learning in 2027 has its perks. However, it comes with downsides, too. No two students are the same. One student might like technology but another likes paper and pencil. The ultimate goal of learning is finding what is best for each student to be most successful in the future. 

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What’s your preferred future of learning? What would you like to see the next generation of students experience?

My preferred future of learning is what many would call “old school.” But that is just what I grew up doing and has worked best for me. I believe finding how you learn best is crucial. I would like to see the next generation of students experience many types of learning and choose what is best for them. This personalized learning will set each and every student up for success.

Do you think young people would benefit from being taught to think about the future in general? Why or why not?

Young people would benefit from being taught to think about the future because it can only prepare them for the better. If they can think about what is to come, then they will be able to set themselves up now for success later in life. For me, learning how to think about the future was a great experience to get out of my comfort zone and imagine schools in 2027.