From Hardcover to Touchscreen

It really wasn't all that long ago when the hardcover textbook was the core source of knowledge in schools. 

I graduated from Archbishop Williams High Schools in 2012 – never having touched a Chromebook nor iPad while in the classroom. In fact, I never really took a computer science class. Most people I grew up with didn't, and if they did, it was a very generalized computer knowledge class that taught the bare basics of using Microsoft Office programs. Whenever we did get the opportunity to use computers, it was almost like a field trip. The use of computers was rare, and only when essential. This wasn't all that long ago.  

When I graduated high school, I knew about a plan for iPads to be brought into the classroom at my old school as a means for using textbooks, which would save a lot of bag-space and become incredibly convenient when it came to students having all their textbooks for their day of classes. No more lugging big heavy books back and forth between home and school, and everything was in one place.  

Of course, there came the drawbacks. Games were the biggest issue with giving iPads to a bunch of teenagers, and this was before Fortnite even existed! I never got to see it face-to-face, however; I moved onto college, where using laptops in class was normal for taking notes, and computer science had evolved enough in higher education where students could develop essentials skills in it.  

Fast-forward only six years later. Children starting in grade school are using Chromebooks and iPads in classes to do their homework. They're learning how to code, how to type efficiently, how to navigate computers. They're taking classes while using computers and about using computers, and suddenly, the computer lab isn't a field trip anymore. 

It was a practice that needed to be done far sooner than it was implemented. The technology industry is booming, particularly for startups. Everybody has that "bright idea" - with the power of technology, and with enough know-how, young people can jump right into building their businesses. Social media has become a powerful tool towards building a following to support your product, which leads to crowd-funding projects that otherwise would need significant support from venture capital firms. All of this wouldn't be possible without apt knowledge of utilizing computers, social media, and the online world in general, something that was entirely ignored and taboo while I was in school. 

The normalization of technology in the classroom isn't something to bicker back and forth about; it's a common-sense advancement of education, something that had to be done. If our young people aren't using computers as an asset to their daily and working lives, it's very unlikely they'll be very successful in their careers in the future. Furthermore, expertise with computers will open so many doors for career opportunities for coding, software development, cybersecurity, graphic designing, and so much more.  

Computers in the classroom is here to stay, and it's a tremendous thing. Sure, we must monitor these kids from playing Fortnite while in class. But we were finding ways to play games with folded pieces of paper when I was in school. Same deal, different tool. The ability to know when to focus on schoolwork versus play is a skill in and of itself, something we all learned while going to school. It looks and feels different, but it's all the same thing. 

Encourage technological exploration. Give children computers and tablets, let them use them and discover how to utilize them, and be amazed by how much they'll know by the time they're teenagers, having grown up with technology all around them. The innovation bound to sprout from the latest generations' minds is something we should all be eagerly awaiting; the potential is astronomical.