It’s easy to blame technology when students tune out during class. With texting, Twitter and the rest of the internet at their fingertips, there’s no arguing that cell phones can be distracting in the classroom.
But let’s be real. We all know that students were getting bored and antsy in Literature long before they had iPhones in their pockets. Using technology is a symptom, not the root problem. The tricky thing is, it’s a really hard problem to solve:
How do we convince kids to really engage with their course material, especially in classes they don’t naturally enjoy? Ironically enough, the answer lies in what so many adults assume is the problem: Technology.
David Akridge, the Chief Information Officer of Mobile County Public School District, recognized that students gravitate toward tech for stimulation. But when we start incorporating tech into the classroom, that same stimulation can be harnessed in a productive way.
And that’s excellent! But what really motivates Akridge is the potential to set students up for long-term success -- helping them discover their passions at an early age so they can hone their crafts right on school grounds.
The goal, he says, is to help every last student find a personal reason why he or she should come to school each day. “We’re trying to find niches that get kids engaged,” he explained.
That means stocking the school, to the best that a budget can allow, with high-end equipment that students can use as they sharpen their own skills, many of which ultimately make use of the more basic coursework they’ve studied over the years.
Consider a kid who would rather stay home and play video games than spend a day at school. But what if that same student could use school equipment to begin coding her own video games?
High-definition monitors, fast-processing computers, game developing software -- these are all items that many students can’t afford on their own. Maybe there’s a budding filmmaker with no access to a real camera. Or a musician with the fine-tuned ear to electronically mix sounds with no idea what software he needs to do it.
All of these students, each individually brimming with potential, are wandering the hallways. And yes, they might be buried in their cell phones. But when we make unique technology available to them, we can help them find the value they’re not currently getting in their day-to-day school lives.
Talk to students and learn their passions, their interests, their goals. They might already know exactly what tech they need, but they also might have no idea at all. Once you get to know the student population, you’ll be able to do the research and find the products and systems that’ll make their jaws drop.
Technology helps us put all the knowledge we’ve learned in school to real-world use. Instead of resisting, allow it to better your students. (But yes, it’s still fair to ban texting in class.) The impact can be monumental.