The New Digital Learning Playbook: My Reaction

After reading the latest report from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2013 Student Survey, a lot of thoughts popped into my mind. I understand that we are involved in a technology revolution and essentially everything we do involves technology and the internet these days. However, I think it’s important that we use technology to enhance learning, not replace it. I agree that it makes sense for students to have similar experiences both in and out of the classrooms, but it’s also not necessary to completely revamp the classroom to accommodate for this.

When I looked at the surveys, I noticed majority of students wanted access to their phones and social media while in school. When I see that, I think that students want this to be able to text their friends and browse Facebook or Instagram while sitting in class. I can’t imagine students want access to their phones in order to look up academic material and enhance their learning. I was a high school student not too long ago and I can say from personal experience that students are using their phones to text their friends. We were not allowed to have our cell phones out during the school day, or they would get confiscated. Some teachers would allow us to use them in class after we finished an assignment. As annoying as this rule was a student, I can’t imagine teaching to a class full of kids staring at their phones. I think this is completely counterproductive, no matter what students claim to be doing on their phones.

What I imagine a classroom to look like if students are allowed to use their phones.

I’m not saying I don’t think technology should be incorporate into classrooms. I personally love technology and I stay updated on all the latest products and social media apps. I have seen the benefits of students using iPads for various activities and it’s awesome to see it come so naturally to young people. There are a ton of educational applications available on the tablets that can really benefit students. However, I also think they cause distraction and some students don’t stay on the app they’re supposed to playing. I have subbed in classrooms where I constantly had to remind the students that we are using the math app and not just having free time. I guess this is a reoccurring theme, whether the use of technology is involved or not. I think technology in schools is essential and very exciting, but there are always going to be problems with it as well.

With that being said, I will embrace technology in my classroom to a certain extent. I will use tools that are helpful to me like Smartboards and document cameras. I think these are amazing pieces of technology that have truly changed the definition of the “traditional classroom.” Since I hope to work with young students in 1st or 2nd grade, I hopefully won’t have to worry about cell phone distractions and things like that. (Maybe I will since the age of children getting cell phones seems to be rapidly decreasing!) Since my students will be young, I will be helping them learn how to use a lot of new technology that they might not be familiar with. At the beginning of a school year, I am going to send home a survey asking parents what type of technology is used in the home and what they let their children have access to. I think by gathering this type of information that I will be able to better adjust my classroom to fit the needs of my students. If I find that all of my students are tech-wizards on iPads, then I will do my best to incorporate them into my lessons and also give them supplement activities and app suggestions for them to look at at home. I’m sure my means of instruction will change dramatically from the time I start my career to the time it’s over. Who knows what new technology will be invented and who knows how it will impact our classrooms? I’m looking forward to finding out!