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Balt. Co. should be wary of education tech

Baltimore County education officials are set to expand student use of laptops this month.

Members of the Baltimore County education community, parents, teachers, students and administrators should have serious concerns about the expanded use of electronic devices in the education process (“Baltimore County parents, school board members ask state for technology audit,” Dec. 5). This issue goes far beyond the economic and funding considerations. It involves huge computer companies making billions of dollars selling computer hardware and software to school districts to meet the need of the Common Core Curriculum and PARCC assessments.

Over the last several years, extensive research reveals expanded use of electronic devices has serious negative effects on learning. Much of the pertinent research was initiated by Pam. A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer at Princeton University and was vetted at Teaching and Learning Centers at UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan. Additional research presented by the International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Duke University researchers has followed. In December of 2015, The Baltimore Sun published an article by Brian Simpson related to this research. Mr. Simpson quoted the lead author of the OECD research, Andreas Schleicher, who told The Washington Post, “We’re at a point where computers are actually hurting learning.” And he quoted the Duke University researchers who concluded that, “students who gain access to home computer between 5th and 8th grade tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math test scores.”

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In simple layman terms, the research informs us that pushing buttons on an electronic device does not stimulate an effective neuromuscular response in the memory centers of the brain. It also suggests that overusing devices effects emotional recognition ability. And significant amounts of time are spent on the device doing activities not related to class lessons or home assignments. The researchers tell us that it is far more effective to use cursive writing for learning and all students should be learning to write in cursive throughout their learning experience.

R.C. Slutzky, Bel Air

The writer is Harford County Council president.

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