Using classroom computers to gain students’ attention

Computers can actually help with attention spans in the classroom, so long as the right classroom management software is used, according to a recent article.

When it comes to classroom management, technology is typically thought of as a distraction to students.

“Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking,” Paul Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University, said to The New York Times.

However, this might not be the case after all. Writing in the Getting Smart blog, Alexia McCormick argued that computers can actually help with attention spans in the classroom, so long as the right classroom management software is used.

McCormick said that such technology can actually make for a richer educational experience, encouraging a more hands-on approach to learning. Instead of trying to fight for students’ attention with a classroom computer, teachers should use the right classroom software that allows for an optimal mix of listening and experiential learning.

For example, she said classroom software should allow teachers to look at students’ screens and to lock them out of a computer if it becomes too distracting.

Proper classroom software can also make it easier for students to share information with peers and with the teacher. Also, as opposed to having a teacher dictate knowledge to students, technology offers the opportunity for students to discover answers independently, she wrote.

Plus, classroom computers can make it easier for teachers to guide students to the right resources, instead of students trying to write down what is written in just one part of a classroom, McCormick said.

“We believe that there should be middle ground between letting students have free range to research what they want and keeping them on task,” she wrote.

Do you think a classroom computer serves as a distraction in a classroom, or can the internet be used as an effective teaching tool? What kinds of classroom management software do schools need to use to make sure kids do not get distracted by technology?

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.