In response to this question:
Since you are a fantastically prolific tech nerd, I am wondering if I could
get your thoughts on what to do about the flood of personal electronic
devices that kids bring to school. Currently, our school is proposing a total
ban on all electronic devices during the school day. My concerns are many
but the most simple being that if we are teaching kids to be ready for jobs
that don’t even exist yet, how can we ban a kid from using his/her iphone to
schedule assignments due?
Anyway, before I pontificate, would you mind piping in?
I wrote this answer:
I disagree with the idea of a total “technology device” ban for several reasons:
1. It’s like throwing the baby out with bathwater (there are some genuinely good technologies out there that actually help students organize and learn)
2. It signals a message of distrust and authoritarianism - are kids and teachers not capable of making this determination themselves? We keep this is as a per-teacher rule at my school. Some allow it in their classrooms, and some don’t.
3. Safety. If there is an emergency, (some kids shoots up the school, medical emergency, etc) it would be nice having cell phones so the kids could call for help
4. Practicality. If a kid misses the bus or forgot a book at home - who uses a pay phone these days?! Who even remembers phone numbers?!
5. Making teaching better. Have you ever REALLY played around google earth? It kicks SO MUCH ASS as a relevant, useful, and cool classroom teaching tool. ASK YOUR KIDS to use google earth to demonstrate their understanding about (anything). I find kids are often at the front lines of appropriate technology use - and probably know a lot more about technology than you (or me) in the classroom).
I want to more directly respond to your notion about preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist yet. You are right - we need to prepare them for entry into a job market that is utterly dominated by technology - some people don’t even listen to voicemail anymore (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/fashion/02voicemail.html?scp=1&sq=voicemail&st=cse) because it takes to much time. Kids need to be technology literate as they enter colleges and universities. There is also a distinct competitive advantage to being able to fluidly move around the technosphere (really - there is).
However, I think a teachers job is to teach kids to think. Teachers need to scaffold content, and to put into context. Teachers also need to help kids think about the relationship between content and their real lives. This is something educational technology ISN’T very good at. Want to know the major points of the civil war? Easy. Want to know how the civil war impacted our lives in 2009? Much harder. My point? Technology is only a tool, and teachers need to associate MEANING with the content. I know you know this, but we have to be careful when we associate technology = better teaching. It’s not quite that simple.
Published on Sunday, April 05, 2009 (10 years, 2 weeks, and 4 days ago). Posted in: Educational Tech Support