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Students weigh in on tech's pros, cons

Seventh-graders in honors earth science at J.W. Dodd

Seventh-graders in honors earth science at J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport work on school-issued Chromebook laptops as teacher Vanessa Vidalon uses a SmartBoard during class on Nov. 1. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Newsday asked students highlighted in the LI Schools page "Way to Go!" feature to respond to this question: "What technology do you consider the most useful and productive to learning? Please give an example of how technology made a difference to you in a classroom setting or with a specific academic subject. In addition, what advice and/or caution do you have for other students regarding tech use?"

Sydney Brett, 17

Senior, Long Beach High School

Technology has many benefits in all aspects of daily living, including education. As a person with dyslexia, I can personally say that the use of technology has had a positive effect on my education. Because of my dyslexia, sometimes it takes me longer to understand specific subject matters; however I eventually always grasp the materials! I have benefited in many subjects, including reading, writing and math, with the use of technology. Specifically, I have found the app and website the Learning Ally to be very helpful as they offer books on tape, which helps me have a better understanding of the material being taught. I benefit from the use of a calculator, and like most people spell check. I think that technology in education helps students, especially those who have learning challenges, to level the playing field and allow them to demonstrate their true abilities! I would recommend to younger students to take advantage of all the technology and equipment inside and outside of school that is available as it will help make you a successful student.

Daniel Flyer, 16

Junior, Roslyn High School

Technology has connected students in a way that was unimaginable 20 years ago. With the onset of the internet and social media, students have been able to easily and efficiently share ideas and ignite conversations in areas of academic importance. For example, with current internet accessibility, students can discuss possible solutions to assigned projects and study together for upcoming exams.

In addition, portable devices have made note-taking exponentially easier in class. When I began to use my iPad to take notes, I was able to write down much more information in much less time. In the past, when I took handwritten notes, I found myself scrambling to keep up with the pace of the lecture. Constantly having to scribble out misspellings and take out new pieces of loose leaf made my note-taking extremely inefficient.

However, for students taking notes on a tablet or laptop, there is always the risk of the technology serving as a distraction. Often I have found myself tempted to play games rather than to pay attention in class. So, I would advise anyone taking notes digitally in class to avoid distractions on their devices and to instead concentrate on the lecture, as it might be really important in the future.

Meredith Kass, 17

Senior, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale

At Kellenberg Memorial High School, where I am a senior, we use iPads in all of our classes. We take notes using a program called Notability, iBooks for our textbooks and eBackPack to track assignments and manage our class schedule. In my Latin class, we use a program called Quizlets to help us review for exams and to build our vocabulary. The iPad makes it really easy to communicate and share information with teachers and classmates. Technology is a terrific way of interacting with our environment and has been a positive experience for me in high school. However, I think we have to remember the importance of face-to-face communication. Connecting with our peers in a real-life setting is still extremely important. Social media can sometimes provide a distorted view of the world. If we use iPads for most of the school day, then we need to turn them off so we can enjoy other school activities like sports and clubs. It's a great way to "give it a rest."

Matthew Carlinsky, 14

Freshman, Oyster Bay High School

The technology I consider the most useful and productive to learning is/are school computer labs (classrooms with computers at every seat). I feel these are better than mobile devices because they are easier to navigate and they can even run certain programs mobile electronics can't. The classroom computers are great for looking up important information for school projects, making citations, fact checking, and just making writing assignments easier in general! In my English class right now, we're typing an essay on computers for these exact reasons, as doing so is more efficient than not having the use of technology for this assignment. Advice and/or caution I have for other students regarding tech use has to do with how easy it can be to get distracted by looking up non-related things that may cross your mind as you work. It is important to use self-discipline to prevent yourself from getting sidetracked. This may take some practice!

Allison Lin, 17

Senior, Syosset High School

With the onset of digital technology and the ensuing prevalence of it in our society, classrooms, schools and, most importantly, students are beginning to become entrenched in the now "digital age." At the federal schooling level, students are taking notes on Chromebooks, watching presentations in classroom Smartboards, enjoying the luxury of free wireless printing. These additions to the educational society have proved the most useful to learning; they increase efficiency with faster note-taking, more attentive students (thanks to enrapturing Smartboard images).

On a personal level, the new accessibility of wireless printing has revolutionized studying for me. Being able to readily print practice quizzes and worksheets enables me to simulate the actual exam situation. This technique especially helped me in preparation for my AP Biology exams or just daily studying, as I print Quizlets with ease.

We're deeply seated in the technological era. It's hard to imagine the limits of our potential. It's hard to imagine we have one. While technology is beautifully tempting, we, even as students, must keep in mind the technological singularity. It is coming. And we, as the next generation, as the future of our society, will be ones to experience or prevent it.

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