About Me

After 23 years as a high school social studies teacher, I have taken a leap into library media.
This blog chronicles my experiences making this transition and my learning in that process.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

On Every Student Having a Device in Class

To teachers who wants students to put their computers away:


Insisting that students learn new information in the way that you do and in the way that you did when you were in school is doing both them and you a disservice… It does students a disservice because you are assuming that they learn as you do. They do not. Their brains are wired differently than yours. Forcing them to learn like you do results in their disinterest and cognitive disengagement. Those two factors ultimately lead to their behavioral disengagement. Consider that students might not be as distracted by technology as they are by its absence.


Teaching students as you were taught also does you a disservice because you are frustrated when you ask your students a question, and they can’t answer it. And you say to yourself (and to them) but I taught you this. You read about it in your textbook. You took a quiz on it. How do you not know it?  The answer: because you taught the way you think you learn. And that is not the way a digital brain learns. Your brain likely won’t rewire, but you need to embrace their wiring and deliver instruction that meets their brains where they are. It is time to stop resisting instructing digitial students in the digital age by saying “this is not how the world works.” because it is how the world works. Increasingly so. Consider these factors:


  • At Yale Medical Group all patients take a wellness and mindfulness survey upon checking in for an appointment. Patients are handed a tablet and asked to complete the survey. The medical team uses that data to gauge trends in patient wellness. Yale is not limiting screen time. Not only do their patients need facility with the device and the survey tool, the employees need to know who access,manipulate, and interpret the information generated by the patients.
  • SSI, a global market research company, conducts company wide meetings by asking all employees, no matter where they are in the world, to log into an interactive digital presentation. It is the corporate version of an in-class nearpod presentation. The CEO does not worry that some employees might wrestle with ADD and struggle to attend. The expectation is that employees attend: digitally and cognitively.
  • Print media is dying having been disrupted by digital media. There are pros and cons to this change. Both are important to education. First, the pro: those media outlets that offered quality journalism when print proliferated have harnessed digital tools to create phenomenal interactive displays of data and simulations of current events. They are tremendous tools for understanding the world, teaching resources and models for students of how to create their own content. And the con: poor quality journalism has now abounded in the digital ecosphere. Which is why it is crucial that students, with our coaching, navigate those murky waters in order to decipher reliable from unreliable, fact from opinion, accurate from misleading.

We need to stop teaching students to be passive recipients of information. That is how the world used to work. That is now how the world works anymore. What we teach doesn’t have to change; how we teach it does.

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