In recent discussions of using electronic devices in the class room, a controversial issue has been whether they should be used at all because of digital distraction.
On the one hand, some argue that the digital world is here to stay, that it’s already here and cannot be kept out student’s lives. The technology is around, used in everyday life and is now the primary way young people learn how to read and communicate. Since that’s the case, some argue that it should be used in the classroom. Why not use it to teach? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
On the other hand, however, others argue that it’s too distracting, that it’s used for entertainment and to socialize rather than work. According to this view, it’s too easy to be used purely as a social tool. Access to sites like Facebook, Instagram, or texting on your smartphone in class is no different than passing notes in class, or classroom chatter. Another worry is that, used exclusively to teach, children will never learn to concentrate or to tune out distractions.
In sum then, the issues is whether to use smartphones and other internet technology as a teaching tool or to ban it from classrooms altogether.
My own view is that you can do both. Monitor its use, continue to keep the classroom a controlled environment by using it as study tool, and use it to be more creative. That being said, I believe that there should be time set aside with out them, times to take a digital sabbatical and foster other skills that are important.
Though I concede that it is distracting to do two things at once (play on your phone or listen to your teacher) and I am a firm believer in unplugging, I still maintain that educators can use the new technology for more than entertainment and socializing. If the digital generation is going to be using it anyway, in all walks of life, and as a productive adult, they need to be skilled at learning to use this technology to commutate, do research and to build. For example, use the blogs and YouTube if that’s how you can reach them. If that’s what it takes to get someone to learn, do it. Although some might object that using new technologies will only cater to instant gratification and entertainment and may overshadow other skills kids need to learn, I would reply that we can use technology as a tool to communicate with each other and foster creativity. .Embracing the technology might bridge that might reach a student where old methods fail.
The issue is important because we are on the precipice of a new evolution in how we transfer information and share it. To me, receiving and sharing information is the very definition of teaching. Educators have a new weapon in their arsenal- let see if we can use it for good.