Are computers and laptops a recreational tool first and then a conduit for knowledge? This issue was brought up in K-12 Technology group discussion on Linked In regarding managing students’ use of technology in classrooms.
This concern is not unique to classrooms: look at employers trying to limit Facebook time and boost productivity of employees. The students are growing up without developing the abilities to focus on studies and control distractions and attention shift. Their emotional wellbeing is affected by Facebook. There are even services popping up that offer help in curbing social media dependency.
As we know technology develops at increased speed and opens freedoms and possibilities to learn and access limitless information. Yet humans have the same limitations as before – thirst for entertainment, engaging with friends, need to shift attention constantly and pursue new “shiny” engaging activities rather than concentrate on studies or work.
Schools play important role in instilling in students ability to focus, establishing boundaries of online behavior and teaching students to use technology productively. Here are some examples of schools that were able to foster learning environments with technology use:
Wolf Creek Public Schools in Alberta introduced BYOD initiative. They did not just stop at supplying infrastructure for wireless connectivity and technical support of devices. They focused on shift in pedagogy and developed new ways of teaching with technology. Curriculum was adjusted so that assignments were posted well in advance and students could choose when to work on completing them. Forums were developed to collaborate on completing assignments and students were encouraged to post their work for others to look and comment on. That motivated students to put more effort into their work.
Palmdale High School recognized that when used properly technology could significantly boost teacher effectiveness and student learning. The school introduced a solution into their lab environment that would allow teachers to stop classroom distractions from taking place right at the source – student workstations and draw students’ attention to the teacher when required.
What’s your take: fun or productivity first when using computers in schools or workplaces? Should control be left with the user and should there be limitations on accessing entertainment sources?