As a high school teacher, so much of my time is spent reminding/encouraging/demanding students turn off their phones and focus on the learning that needs to take place. However, the videos from this week are making me consider the issue somewhat differently. If our students are digital natives, then can we truly expect them to turn off a part of themselves?
With some critical recollection, I am aware of the fact that a lot of my teaching methodology is based upon the way I was taught as a student, direct instruction with the teacher as the primary source of knowledge. The line of thinking states that if students are facing forward with pens in hand, there is no basis for distraction and the knowledge will flow freely. However, as my pedagogy has evolved I am starting to question the basis of this information. If the students are most comfortable with technology in front of them, will they be able to focus by simply writing notes?
I think back to when I went first attended university, maybe 5% of students brought a laptop to class, while during my postgraduate work, at least 95% of students bring some form of technology to work with. If we embrace this level of technology with our colleagues in university, should we not allow the same level of freedom to our Digitally Native students?
Of course, the pushback to this thought process always starts with the question of distraction. If the students are freely allowed to access their phone in class, what’s to stop them from playing games instead of learning? As I researched cell phone distraction, the results were disappointing. Too often websites focused on physically removing the device from the student as the only way to maintain their attention.
So my goal this semester is to make a fundamental shift.
Instead of fighting a losing battle to remove the phone from their hands,I am instead going to focus on making that device a tool which enhances their learning, rather than leading to a distraction.
The method to achieving this goal is yet to be determined. My major project will focus on how to incorporate Snapchat into the classroom and before I can proceed any further, I want to talk to my students and learn from them as they are more knowledgeable in the app than I could ever be.