Technology Etiquette

As technology’s role gets bigger in our lives it’s bringing up uncomfortable challenges in all sorts of places, but not least in the classroom. This is not such an issue at the school level where mobile phones are still not welcomed. However, at a college level it is bringing many changes.

Even in school in the computer lab teachers are finding it more and more challenging to deal with the fact that some students are making choices to explore other things outside the realm of the classroom when they are meant to all be concentrating on something determined by the teacher. Is this really an different to the old days of students gazing out of the classroom window, or playing that game where you give all the outward appearance of being engaged in the lesson but actually are miles away in a world of your own?

When there are Indian schools taking steps to introduce IT in to all aspects of learning, have we got our research right about how it will be used, whether it’s really supporting learning and whether we have effective plans in place to deal with the downside and the risk factors. For example, a prominent school in Mumbai, Podar International, recently requested all parents of the 800 or so pupils to purchase an iPad.

There are some debates that continue to go on about whether wi-fi around young children all day is really a wise thing. Beyond that, have the teachers had the requisite training to ‘control’ how these tablets are being used in the classroom? For the average Indian teacher, until now, learning has been inherently teacher-centric. I can imagine the only way many teachers will be able to ‘police’ the tablet use is to dictate that they are switched off for large parts of the school day.

If you had all the motivation issues addressed in advance, the issues about students wanting to treat the classroom as a place where they are learning, with full trustworthy ownership of their own learning process (without any requirement for duress or ‘extrinsic’ motivation!) then this could all be wonderfully empowering. However, if those issues haven’t been addressed, then i fear this could become a major challenge to effective learning in the classroom.

Here’s a Mindshift article on the issue of technology etiquette in the new wired world:

Mindshift Article

Technology in Schools

Here’s a great short article that sets out the seven rules for technology use in schools from the author of ‘The Tech Commandments’, Adam S Bellow. The rules he set out here really resonated with me and are very much in accord with the way that our thinking has gone to shape the school’s IT policy recently:

Seven Golden Rules for Technology

In pursuit of the first rule, we have been moving towards a hybrid approach – still having computer labs, but also putting a small number of network connections and PCs in to each classroom.

If there was to be an eighth rule here, one that flows out of many of the others in my opinion is that technology in school is no longer the domain of a small ‘geek brigade’ of teachers and technicians who ‘teach computers’. They used to be the people to oversee those special rooms where the computers were. Now the technology is everyone’s business and nobody’s special domain.

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