OK, I know an athletics day is not the time to be sitting with earplugs and isolating oneself from the occasion, however, I do think we can legitimately discuss appropriate use of technology and mobile devices even in terms of athletics and sporting events without putting out a blanket ban.
I am heartened by the discussion Karl Fisch is fostering on this topic in his recent 'What if?' post. Karl also shares his frustration with blanket dismissals and over-eager administrators who, although having good intentions at heart, are not taking the time to fully explore and consider the ramifications and opportunities mobile and ubiquitous technology brings to education. In Karl's words:
"Instead of posting those signs, could we not have a discussion with our students and staff about appropriate use of technology? There are very real issues that we as teachers are struggling with that are much more deserving of our attention than a sign that I don’t think actually accomplishes anything – at least not anything good. As we’ve seen on numerous other blogs, many of our students are more than willing to spend time thinking and discussing important issues, why not involve them instead of dismissing them?"
In a previous post to this blog I also lament the absence of a common language to start this discussion of important and real issues. How can teachers meet and leave their prejudice and 20th century teaching skills at the door and be open to a frank discussion? How can we meet the students at least half way? More student involvement in the discussion is essential, either through student live forums (eg Student Representative Council) or through online interaction (eg blogging).
I believe there are two main problems here:
- A lack of understanding on the educators side as to what advantages for learning and interacting mobile devices can provide to teachers and students and classes in general.
- An unwillingness, on the educators side, to relinquish 'control' of the learning arena. It is still the case that if the teacher is not instigating it, directing it and controlling it it is not considered a good learning environment.
Thanks to Karl for his new release of 'What If' and his ability to keep posing the questions and inspiring us to consider the alternatives.
Picture Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/markschmatz/ Moblie phone closeup
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