8 months ago Angela (@alanglands) and I engaged in a showdown over whether or not schools should limit a student’s access to the web. As our fourth course winds its way to completion this week’s conversation topic led us to an interesting debate at the dinner table and we have found ourselves in a second showdown in SA.
Again, we are co-writing this blog in response to the topic: reflect on your own use of devices in the classroom. Like last time, we’ll break this topic in to 5 rounds to which TEAM GREEN vs. TEAM BLUE will debate. Since we’re asking you to be our judge, we’ll ask you to vote in one of our comments sections so the winner will again be pardoned from some menial house chores (as well as well-deserved bragging rights!) May the best spouse win!
Round 1: Distractions
Team Green: Students and teachers don’t need any more distractions. Giving unlimited access to devices just gives students another reason to get distracted. Full access to devices will also distract others and disrupt lessons when and if students move around the classroom in the middle of a lesson to pick up a device to investigate something
Team Blue: Like students and teachers of years past we’re all distracted at some point or another. Now we’re not doodling a crush’s name on our notebook or daydreaming about becoming one of the high school students in a John Hughes film. Why not just fill our void, sort out our distractions, and move on to the task at hand?
Round 2: Less interaction
Team Green: We should be maximizing the time students interact with each other, not the time they spend on their devices. A big part of school, especially elementary school, is learning social skills and interacting with peers during times like lunch and recess. Some of this vital interaction time will disappear if students are on devices all the time. If we go the way of limitless devices– we might as well run online classes
Team Blue: Kids are just connected nowadays. We old fogies just have to deal with this new world. A big part of school, especially elementary school, is learning how to be social with one another an interacting effectively with your peers. Students can do this by commenting and liking posts or collaborating on computer tasks–have you seen how much children talk when technology is involved?
Round 3: Tech envy
Team Green: If you give students access any time, anywhere, and for any reason, they will start going beyond school devices and begin using their own personal devices. By doing this, school could turn into a competition of who can bring in the latest and greatest device. If you only allow access on school devices it is equal for all students, even those without any cool personal devices. This is incredibly important in environments where the haves and the have-nots come together in one learning environment.
Team Blue: We can’t avoid envy in school. No matter how schools focus on uniformity: uniforms, haircuts, shoes, devices we can never fully scratch out envy. Humans are envious by nature. Whether we’re eyeing our friend’s date, current hairstyle, car, or job, we’re often envious of our peers. Envy can promote further hard work and diligence to achieve what the Jones’ have. If we don’t allow students to feel envious and teach them how to survive these challenges are we preparing them for life outside of our sheltered school bubble?
Round 4: Instant access
Team Green: Why do students need instant access? What’s wrong with waiting for a teacher to give you the thumbs-up before they have the chance to look up the answer? It’s important that we teach students the value of patience. Like the saying goes: “patience is a virtue.”
Team Blue: Oh please! How many times have you been out with your friends and a debate ensues where everyone pulls out their device to add credence to their argument or answer a question? Um… yeah, every day! If this is one of the ways in which students are getting and sharing information, let’s teach in to it! Fellow educators, don’t be upset watching the students try to get information as you blab on… you know you do it. Heck, you might even be doing it now.
Round 5: Creating Overly Reliant Children
Team Green: If we are building schools in which students’ thinking and learning is completely engrossed with technology, how are kids to fare when the power is out, the internet goes down, or there are just no devices around? It’s important that we teach kids how to work in technology-free environments so they can learn alternative skills. We teach students multiple strategies to solve a problem. Why wouldn’t we challenge them to utilize other tools besides technology? Like my mom always said, “Kid, you’ve gotta have a back up plan.”
Team Blue: We don’t know the future world these kids will grow up to work and be part of. Right now, their environments are technology rich at every corner. They can tweet on a plane, update their Facebook status on a bus, and Skype their family on safari in Krurger (oh wait… that was me!) But you get my drift, right? Students live in a connected world. Why are we trying to fight a losing battle?