As much as edtech folks hope otherwise, worksheets will never be replaced with technology. The idea is just preposterous. A simple Google search shows the data to back up this claim. Millions upon millions of websites show downloadable worksheets at the click of a button.
Still, the debate is constant: New way vs. old way. Automated vs. by hand. The ongoing worksheet vs. technology battle has to end. Technology will never replace worksheets in the classroom, not because worksheets are wonderful, but because it’s not supposed to.
Some teachers use worksheets for one of two reasons: to check for understanding or to reinforce a concept immediately after instruction. Even teachers who work in a paperless environment tend to download and give students worksheets so they can show off their skills at the end of a lesson. Worksheets are an addition to our instruction. They provide an after-instruction activity that attempts to demonstrate how well the students heard and learned the information given to them.
Most teachers use technology for entirely different reasons.
Technology is meant to enhance learning, to help students find a deeper understanding of lessons. Technology’s purpose is to create and inspire, alongside the instruction that is being given.
Students grab hold of their learning, search, question and find information for themselves when technology is in the classroom. Technology should be a during-instruction platform, making understanding the final goal and allowing students to showcase their thoughts, and ideas and findings within the lesson itself. It gives them the opportunity to create new ideas, and tech inspires students to dig beyond the surface.
In fact mobile devices, social media and apps engage students in the instruction process in ways a worksheet can’t.
Technology will never replace worksheets, but what it can do is enhance understanding of instruction and give the students confidence and the power to ace that old worksheet.
Beth K. Johnson is a former 8th grade teacher, who coaches teachers to use technology in their classrooms every day for an Oklahoma school district. Follow Beth on Twitter: @bethiejq