No More Pencils, No More Books
We Can Use Technology Instead
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Can back problems caused by the heavy load many high school students carry around be alleviated through the use of technology? Nearly everything we do with books and papers can now be done on computers. We can take notes, fill in worksheets, access online textbooks, and even take tests. So the question is, “Why are we not taking advantage of this?” Taking off that weight and virtually reducing school supplies down to a laptop or tablet seems irresistible.
Many high school students develop back problems from those heavy loads that can last for years. According to a study done in 2003 by the University of California at Riverside, and cited by WebMD, there is a direct correlation between heavy backpacks and an increase in back pain in high school students. Students carrying upwards of 20 percent of their weight in their backpacks were likely to report back pain. Although their study did not follow the students into the future, the researchers believed it likely that teens with back pain could become adults with the same problem. Using both straps of your backpack can reduce visits to the doctors, but it doesn’t completely eradicate the problem. Why carry around so many books when we could use online resources?
Mrs. Crowley, the Abington High School (AHS) librarian, thinks that teachers and administrators might be concerned that too much technology in the classroom could be distracting. This is one of the reasons many teachers do not allow the use of cell phones, smart watches, or music devices in their classrooms. However, some students think the benefits would outweigh such concerns. “I think it would be better to give everyone an iPad or computer to take home,” said Olivia Sweeney ’20.
The cost of lost or damaged equipment might be another concern. A study at Princeton University reported by National Public Radio (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014) showed that the process of writing notes was more beneficial than typing them into a laptop. Despite those findings, students are more likely to see the benefits of increased access to technology. Monticello High School, in Charlottesville, Virginia, made the switch from textbooks to technology, and found that the internet is far more up to date than textbooks are. Textbooks might be repurchased every few years, or sometimes longer, but the internet is updated constantly.
Purchasing laptops for the entire school may not seem like a realistic solution because of the the cost, however several students already have their own laptops or tablets. A solution could be as simple as adjusting how we use the technology we have readily available at our fingertips. In an eco-friendly environment switching to technology would also significantly reduce the amount of paper used, as well as eliminate the need for photocopying machines. The time spent regularly using these machines can be put towards furthering the education of students.
Many colleges have already transitioned into using laptops and tablets. By using this technology in high school, we are ensuring that students make more efficient and easier transitions into college learning. AHS Assistant Principal, Sullivan shared her thoughts on the increased use of technology, especially as we get ready to move into a new building. “We will be transitioning into a seamless classroom integration with technology, and our current infrastructure is also going to increase dramatically. Each classroom will be able to handle so many devices, and there will be no interruptions,” said Ms. Sullivan.
It is starting to make sense that the future will bring increased use of technology as a more realistic and cost effective solution to hauling around heavy textbooks, tattered notebooks, and a baffling number of handouts. Hopefully, that future includes Abington High School making the same transition that many other high schools have, into the growing world of technology.