Monday, March 27, 2023

In last week’s Letters to the Editor, the idea that children in our community rely far too much on technology was presented (“Technology in the Classroom,” September 29, 2022). Allow me to alleviate the primary concerns conveyed. As someone who has experience learning in both a non-technological public school and a fully online school, I can say with certainty that if we value education, technology is the way forward. The majority of jobs these days demand multifaceted competency in research, marketing, computation, etc. If nothing else, school is intended to level-up a student’s knowledge in order to get a job.

As a refutation of e-books, the letter writer indicated that physical textbooks were easier to browse, flip through pages, or read a chapter that wasn’t assigned because the title or illustration looked interesting. E-book table of contents navigate to the chapter or subchapter; indexes navigate to the page a keyword is defined; searching an entire book with CTRL+F is incredibly useful; and readers can place an infinite number of bookmarks. On top of that, highlighting and note-taking can be done directly on the page with added bonuses of navigability, editability and shareability. I fail to see how physical textbooks can match that functionality. In addition, the reduction of physical textbooks is clearly better for the environment.

I remember growing up carrying three-plus textbooks in a backpack that weighed up to 30 pounds. Any high-achieving student would agree that it was a painful burden, and having one device with all of their books and notes would be a massive benefit.

Another major complaint of “Technology in the Classroom” is the high availability of distractions. Any school intending to implement technology in the classrooms must also limit the availability of distractions. Firewalls have been available for decades now. Remotely disabling applications or websites is easy now with parental controls on all devices. Google Classroom also adds efficiency with distribution and grading assignments, course content is easily referenceable including due dates, and parents can have a more granular view into the course content and where their kid may need more support.

There are much more resources for studying Gemara, Tehillim, Torah and Hebrew online. If your goal is to focus a child’s study of those topics, book accessibility in your shul or neighboring shuls is a problem of the past. Just last week, I downloaded an application geared towards memorizing Tehillim. The sheer availability to all of our Judaic scholars, past and present, should be the most exciting privilege.

Ryan Miller
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