Thanks to technological advances, our world is becoming more and more interconnected. Text, email, online video chatting, and more social media outlets than one person could ever need have come together to create a generation addicted to technology. Dr. Scott Spangler has been studying this addiction and its effects on a learning environment for over a year and a half. In his Roundtable presentation on September 16, Dr. Spangler discusses his findings and encourages educators to use technology as an enrichment tool rather than treat it as a nuisance.
Dr. Spangler first concentrated on the social implications of technology on the, as he calls it, ‘SnapChat’ generation. Dr. Spangler found through interviewing and observing over four hundred students that young adults have begun to form strong attachments to their devices. The SnapChat generation suffers from heightened anxiety, especially in the face of failing technology. “Students”, to paraphrase what Dr. Spangler said, “sit by power outlets… because they need their fix.” He encourages teachers to let their students get their ‘fix’, even if it is to just look up a definition of a word. Dr. Spangler also encourages every student to form small ‘online synergy groups’ of about four people in order to share class notes and ideas. Instead of the traditional study groups that meet in one place during a certain time, technology has allowed students to use the internet to continuously communicate with classmates.
Dr. Spangler’s ideas of encouraging technology usage instead of suppressing it seem to be a win/win scenario for both teachers and students; learning becomes engaging and information is retained on a greater level. According to Dr. Spangler, the prospect of using current, free technology to supplement traditional lecture is a fast approaching reality, one that the SnapChat generation is ready for.