What are the Long-Term Effects of Edtech Use?

Now that technology has found a home in most classrooms, it is time for teachers and parents to start considering what the trade-off might be for this new advancement. Students have better test scores than before, but what is the ultimate cost for the long-term use of edtech? School districts continue to purchase new digital tools so that teachers can implement more new programs in the classroom. Unfortunately, nobody wants to talk about what the increased use of digital devices could mean for students in the future.

Researchers are still avidly studying the effect that prolonged exposure to technology can mean for students. While the research is far from over, these are just a few of the long-term effects that have already been discovered.

Increased Motivation and Self-Esteem

One of the best things about using edtech in the classroom is how motivated students are to participate. The programs used are far more engaging than the standard textbooks and whiteboards that most students are used to. Many of the programs give them immediate feedback to tell them how well they are doing. They can often use that feedback to modify their behavior when they attempt the program again, always searching for a higher score. Their ability to change the results ultimately increases their self-esteem as well, making them more motivated to participate. It creates an endless positive loop of motivation and improved self-esteem.

Learn More in Less Time

According to a study from researcher James Kulik, students who used computer-based programs often learned more information in less time. It should be noted that his study did not include the gamification that is present in many edtech companies today. Instead, he concluded that students learned more through tech-based tutorials, drill and practice questions, and integrated learning systems. Because they learned more in less time, students also tended to score much higher on tests of standard achievement.

Decreased Attention Span

Researchers have known for quite some time that the amount of time we spend in front of screens dramatically impacts our attention spans. The same is true for students, even when they are using that technology to enhance their education. Exposure to screens makes it difficult for children to learn how to organize information and pay attention for longer periods of time. Some are speculating that the increase in the use of technology could be the cause of the dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

While edtech does hold a lot of promise for today’s students, we must weigh our options very carefully. It is possible to have too much of a good thing in the classroom. Educators need to consider whether every edtech program is truly beneficial for their students. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of long-term technology use will be essential to helping students prepare for a bright future.


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