The Electric Educator: Is technology making school too easy?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Is technology making school too easy?

I was recently asked if it was possible to disable automatic spell check on a Chromebook. The person who was asking is a great teacher and a leader at her school. It wasn't really her question, it was a question that she was tasked to research. 

I am sometimes quite dismayed by teachers who want to limit students from using readily available technology to complete their school work. These are tools that we (adults) use EVERY DAY. 

What would YOU do if your boss told you that you were no longer allowed to use:
  • Automatic spell check 
  • A calculator
  • Voice dictation software 
  • The internet
Let's just say that there would probably be another march on Washington...

My goal is to provide helpful, real-world solutions. While I have [lots] of opinions, I don't want to be dogmatic in my approach toward the use of technology in the classroom. So I provided two responses and let her decide which one to use:
The Snarky Response: Why would we not allow students to use readily available technology to help them with spelling. I use spell check EVERYDAY. Without it I would be in trouble. Students should still be held accountable for spelling errors and mistakes in their work, but are free to use all available tools.

The Judicious Response: Automatic spell checking can be disabled through the Google admin console. This will not, however, impact other tools and services which can also check spelling (Drive spell check, add-ons, etc). The only absolute way to eliminate such services is to return to pencil and paper. You can turn off spell check from the Google admin console: Device Management > Chrome > User Settings > User Experience. 
What do YOU think? Is using spell check, calculator, etc, preventing our students from developing critical, basic skills? How do YOU respond when someone complains that technology is making things too easy?

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