Blaming students and technology instead of us
Here’s a comment that was just left over at BigThink on an old post of mine:
I am a senior English teacher. Here is my problem with using technology in the classroom: I walked into an AP class this past year and stood in the back for the lecture. I took notes about what the students were doing. 4 (the top 4, mind you) were using their netbooks to take notes. One student was on Skype with his college girlfriend, 6 were playing games. 2 were on iTunes and actually had earbuds in. Really? What are they learning here besides what they can get away with? When I allow students to use their netbooks in my classroom, it is only when I am actually giving notes from the board in a prezi or on power point. At that time, I walk around to make sure they are doing nothing else with them. I know, however, that when I’m walking in the front of the room, those students are working. I see the ones in the back of the room clicking around and begin feverishly typing as I get closer to their table.
High schoolers do need to be able to use technology, but if they don’t use it properly, it is more of a hindrance and distraction than a good, useful tool. Do they have the maturity to use it appropriately and how do we get them to change to proper behavior – those are the questions to ask. In case you can’t tell, this is a pet peeve of mine
This is primarily a pedagogical and/or supervision issue, not a student or technology issue. When are the students off task in this scenario? When the teacher is lecturing to them and they’re just supposed to sit passively and take notes. Are they engaged? Are they interested? Do they get other opportunities to use technology besides taking notes? It doesn’t appear so. If I were a student in those classes and I had a laptop, I’d be off task too [yawn].
Classroom management stems from good instruction. Engaging learning environments mitigate ‘off-task’ behavior. We need to stop blaming students or laptops for our own failure to create better learning spaces (and that’s true whether we’re talking P-12 or postsecondary). Mindless compliance from students? No thanks.
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