Saturday, February 01, 2014

Don't Blame The Tool - Blame the Environment

     One thing that I've been thinking about a lot lately is the use of devices in the classroom and how polarized educators seem to be when it comes to managing how students use their personal devices during class time. In fact, on Friday during a lunch out with colleagues I overheard someone say they should be banned all together in the classroom! Another teacher mentioned how they planned on implementing a bargaining system where students could earn a "tech-break" depending on their behavior during certain activities. Regardless of the specific details, a majority of teachers agreed that devices were distracting to students. A quick image search for, "Cellphones in the classroom", brings up images like:


appropriate cellphone use in the classroom, managing cellphone use in the classroom, device use in the classroom
Is It Legal For Schools To Fine Students For Using A Cell Phone? (2010). Uploaded to "Education & Tech" by Milton Ramirez. Available online at: http://www.educationandtech.com/2010/08/is-it-legal-for-schools-to-fine.html
appropriate cellphone use in the classroom, managing cellphone use in the classroom, device use in the classroom
The Simpsons and Phones In School. (2009). Uploaded to "Learning in Hand with Tony Vincent". Available online at: http://learninginhand.com/blog/2009/10/13/the-simpsons-and-phones-in-school.html
appropriate cellphone use in the classroom, managing cellphone use in the classroom, device use in the classroom
Funny School 5. (2013). Uploaded to The Berry by Megan. Available online at: http://theberry.com/2013/09/26/in-a-relationship-with-school-18-photos/funny-school-5-2/
     Then today I saw this awesome and to-the-point post from George Couros that I totally agreed with: Stating The Obvious. George addresses his viewpoint on the "distracting devices" as:

      My initial thoughts is that in a world where there are so many
      amazing things and easy ways to connect, kids are not always
      simply distracted, but sometimes they are just bored...
      The best “classroom management” is engaging learning
      opportunities no matter if you are 16 or 60.

I love the way George summarizes this statement as I feel like it was what has been floating around in my head for the last little while and I just wasn't able to put it into words. I honestly believe that the level of distracted students is not necessarily higher, it is that they now have a tool to combat boredom that is more obvious to us (and it is a tool that knows a lot more than us too!).

     Before this, students still found ways to distract themselves if they were bored. They would doodle, pass paper notes (anyone remember those?), make paper airplanes, construct "weapons" out of pens and rubber bands, or simply stare out the window and daydream. Regardless of what the "boredom buster" tool students are utilizing, our question as educators should be, "How can I ensure that my lessons are more relevant and meaningful for my students?" instead of, "How can I make sure that my students don't bring (insert boredom buster tool here) into the classroom".

2 comments:

  1. I would love to bring technology into my class with students iPods. There are so many great, engaging apps and QR searches you can do. There's no way my school (or myself) can afford to buy the tools, and the students already have them. Unfortunately, my district has a "no outside technology" policy. Student ipods etc are unable to connect to the district internet. Too bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is their reasoning for banning outside technology? If budget is an issue in regards to providing devices it seems like it might be a good option to allow students to bring their own.

      Delete