No technology beyond this point?


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Sammy0716

I came across an article on ProfHacker detailing some of the “highlights” from a report by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR), the annual ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013.

One of the data points that was highlighted was that when it comes to smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tablets, student are told to leave them at the door. Or at least leave them in their bags or pockets. Laptops, I noticed, are slightly more encouraged or required. I fully admit that during the class I taught, I didn’t put smartphones to use. I regret that. Considering how attached I am to my own device (although I did at least exhibit good behaviour there and leave my own in my bag too), you might think I’d have caught on. I was still stuck in the mentality I’d had demonstrated by my own instructors, that there was no place for technology in the classroom.

With products like PollEverywhere and those like it, with easy access to Google or other search options, smartphones are more and more powerful tools in the classroom. While I agree there are times when they need to be set down, there are a lot of times when a quick hit on your smartphone can help you focus and bring you back.

More than that, these are tools that many of us know well. We have an opportunity to show students ways to use them, ways they might not otherwise have considered. I am constantly looking things up on my phone, trying apps. My husband uses apps to help keep track of his homework and deadlines. I take pictures of things I need or want to remember. I can send a quick email, jot something down, set a reminder. I don’t just use it to text or tweet or take “selfies.”

So what about you? What ways do you use your smartphone or tablet that you think your students could benefit from? What cool things are you doing in your classroom with a smartphone?

4 thoughts on “No technology beyond this point?”

  1. I think smart phones are a valuable resource for the mainstream classroom. My school did not purchase student agenda books, teachers found they were not being used. Instead, students are encouraged to use their smart phone for reminders about assignment due dates, school events, ect. It seems to be working well, I haven’t heard any complaints about not issuing student agenda books. Although I don’t use Twitter for school use, many of my colleagues do and have said that the students actively follow the school Twitter account. I use my smart phone to take photos throughout the year and at the end of the year make a memory book for the students to keep. My students graduate from my classroom and many of them have been 6+ years at the school, so they really cherish the memory book they receive when they graduate. (that’s about the coolest thing I use my phone for at school!)
    I personally use my smart phone for texting, Twitter, Facebook, calendar, Instagram, Pinterest, etc etc. I think my students could benefit from and enjoy many apps, but unfortunately, due to no accessibility my special education students do not use smart phones. So unless they are issued by the school, I will not be able to use smart phone technology in my classroom. I’m okay with that for now, one step at a time and for now we are working with the school issued iPad, which we feel fortunate to have.

    1. Well, iPads are definitely a great option, Shaela! Especially when you have students who wouldn’t have a smartphone. I agree, there are accessibility issues potentially to using smart phones. Curious to know how you’re using the iPads with your students and if you find they are helping your teaching or acting as an end themselves?

  2. Kirsten,
    Working with pre-service teachers, I find it so helpful that students have access to the Internet in class. Even if it’s just being able to access documents on our course site on Edmodo, it’s so useful for students to have individual devices. However, when I taught in a high school, there was a strict no phone policy in the school, and many of my pre-service teachers tell me that they encounter the same thing when they go out as interns. I wonder what it will take to change the mindset in all schools so that we can utilize the tremendous benefits that smartphones provide.

    1. There is definitely a gap between what seems like best practice and policies, that’s for sure. Considering some of the stuff in the states, like schools hiring companies to monitor social media, it is pretty clear that no one is quite sure how to deal with it. Even locking ipads (which are then hacked by students) shows that there are clearly people setting policies for schools who are afraid of what students can do with technology. I get the concern. A friend had to look into net nanny programs because her 6 year old had mostly signed up for a website and was suddenly asking for her mother’s email address to complete the sign up. Kids are fast and can easily get access to content they shouldn’t have or aren’t ready for. But that is like the debate on scissors. Should students have the blunt scissors that don’t work, or no scissors or be taught how to use them safely? Every tool can be a problem. I really do hope that more schools start to find ways to use technology. I mostly deal with university students so there is even less justification for rules restricting the use of technology aside from instructors not wanting to deal with it or not understanding how to use it as a positive tool.

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