Henry Arthur, a rising senior at Elberta High School, was just awarded a scholarship on a recent essay he wrote about Baldwin County Public Schools’ response to the COVID-19 school closures and meaningful instruction he received, despite not being in a traditional classroom setting.
IvyPanda.com asked students to “evaluate the contributions of technology to education.” Arthur’s work placed first out of 1,085 submissions. The essay contest is an annual event with the winner receiving a $1,500 scholarship. To see the announcement, visit https://ivypanda.com/blog/winner-announcement-essay-writing-contest-scholarship-2020/.
Arthur’s essay has been included below. We are very #BaldwinProud of Henry Arthur!
The Contributions of Technology to Education
The “old days” of education are dead. No longer is the pursuit of an education reliant on the presence of encyclopedias for research, pencils and paper for essay composition, or even a traditional classroom to allow students and teachers to interact. Today, educational opportunities are as vast as the Internet itself. Anything a student could possibly desire to learn about can be found somewhere within the complex sequences of ones and zeros that make up everything digital.
Since 2012, my school district in Baldwin County, Alabama has made considerable progress in applying technology within its schools. It was in 2012, in fact, that the Baldwin County Public School System began “providing every child in the system a digital device for educational instruction enhancement” (Hatley). There is not a single day that has gone by in my three years of high school where we have not used our laptops. Whether we are taking a quiz in math, writing an essay in literature, reading primary source documents in history, or transferring the results of a laboratory experiment into a spreadsheet in chemistry, nearly everything done within school is reliant on the presence of computers and a stable connection to the Internet.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools across the country to close my classes were able to continue unaffected. Video conferences allowed me to interact with my fellow students and teachers, and assignments were submitted electronically. Being a student taking multiple AP classes, I was initially worried that the AP tests which are administered at the end of the school year would be cancelled. My fears were all for naught, however, as the CollegeBoard announced that AP exams would be administered online this year. The first-ever round of online AP tests was a success with “more than 4.6 million AP exams… started over the 10 days of testing across 32 subjects” (Knudson). Despite an unfortunate ending to the school year students all across the country were able to earn the college credit that they had been working towards all year. It has been extremely uplifting to watch as education has continued despite the hard times we have been faced with. None of this would have been possible without vast technological resources.
Coming from a rural Alabama town and a family who will not be able to contribute monetarily to my pursuit of a college education, there has always been a considerable amount of anxiety hanging over my head as to how I am going to pay for college. My father, a man who paid his own way through college, has recounted to me how he had to search for hours through countless manuals and enormous books in order to find information about scholarships. With the Internet, I am able to “get scholarship information and opportunities at lightning speed” (Dutca). Technology has allowed me to easily and efficiently locate scholarships that match my interests and skills. Technology enables me to easily write essays, create videos, and compose music to apply to various scholarships in order to help pay for college. While the burden of having to pay for something as expensive as college still causes a good amount of stress, technology has helped to alleviate some of the uncertainty concerning the location of reputable scholarships.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” An increasingly digitized world has produced increasingly effective resources for students to learn both inside and outside of school. I have always had a passion for foreign languages, for example, and I have numerous mobile applications on my phone which allow me to practice my language skills wherever I might be. Technology allows me to connect daily with friends I have who live in El Salvador who I met while on a mission trip. Technology allows for students to learn in nontraditional ways which are in many cases more engaging and effective than a traditional classroom. By allowing students to take control of their education, technology has served to cultivate a love of learning among students across the world. It is exciting to think of what new technological advances will bring to education in the future.
Dutca, Susan. “5 Ways Scholarship Searches Benefit From Technology.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2016, www.usnews.com/education/scholarship-search-insider/articles/2016-06-16/5-ways-scholarship-searches-benefit-from-technology.
Hatley, Von. “Preparations for the ‘New Normal.’” Area Development, 22 May 2020, www.areadevelopment.com/covid-19-response/Q2-2020/preparations-for-the-new-normal.shtml.
Knudson, Annalise. “Over 4.6M AP Exams Taken during Online Administration.” Silive, 26 May 2020, www.silive.com/coronavirus/2020/05/over-46m-ap-exams-taken-during-first-ever-online-administration.html.