Classroom technology debate

by Hayley O’Brien

Students are required to use online resources in most classes a Whitworth. Some instructors, however, question the limitations of technology in the classroom.

“I think having a fully interactive e-textbook is the way of the future,” said Andrew Matteson, adjunct faculty of math and computer science.

Matteson uses MyMathLab, an online homework tool, for his calculus and Math 107 courses.

“The best thing about these online tools is the instant feedback for both the students and professors,” Matteson said.

Kari Smith, junior, and Abby Eichenberger, sophomore, both said MyMathLab is a helpful tool.

“I really liked it,” Smith said. “It gave really good feedback and helps you work through problems.”

Other Whitworth courses using online support did not receive the same responses as MyMathLab.

Online homework for one of Eichenberger’s education courses impairs her learning ability, Eichenberger said.

“The text is given in short chunks and distracting from the concept as a whole,” she said.

Laura Bloxham, professor of English, said she does not assign online homework, preferring interaction in the classroom.

“I don’t deal with very defined answers; I deal mostly with critical thinking,” Bloxham said.

Electronic devices being used are very interesting, she said.

In classes such as physics, a student can just click on the answer he or she thinks is correct, and the devices allow professors to check on the progress of students very often and easily, Bloxham said.

Ingrid LaVoie, modern global language lecturer, said she chose to bring the German program on board with e-textbooks and online assignments because they allow students to have both listening and speaking components at their fingertips.

“It’s almost like they can take me into their backpacks, only it’s not me,” LaVoie said.

The online text can simulate an environment in which students are surrounded by the language, she said.

Frederic Dugenet, lecturer of French, said there are limits to the online language programs.

“You cannot bypass the human factor. It’s interactions in the classroom that really matter,” Dugenet said.

While grading, Dugenet found exercises in which answers that were marked wrong by the computer were actually right.

The computer can not assess creative writing or pronunciation, he said.

“Technology is a support. It’s not you being a slave to a computer program,” Dugenet said.

Contact Hayley O’Brien at

Note: A correction was made to this story regarding the titles of Ingrid LaVoie and Frederic Dugenet. The Whitworthian incorrectly reported that lecturers Ingrid LaVoie and Frederic Dugenet were professors.

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