Many teachers scowl when they see cell phones or iPods being used in their classrooms, viewing the use of such devices as ultimately disrespectful. Using such devices can be disrespectful. Yet, there is an educational need for such technology. Used in a respectful way, handheld technology can be a progressive way for students to engage learning. Teachers must have a plan to limit off-task use of handheld devices while increasing student interest in using the devices as educational tools.
In order to do this, teachers will need to explain and enforce consequences when the rules for using handheld devices are broken. Juli Di Chiro, a superintendent in Oregon, commented on misuses of technology in a recent article for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Di Chiro noted that “technology isn’t the root of the problem. ” She then said, “It’s like any other misbehavior and we have to make sure if that does happen, that it’s a learning opportunity for our kids, so they understand that if they do those things that it’s not appropriate and we’ll need to redirect them” (Guzik 2).
Di Chiro realizes that students regularly misbehave; they aren’t misbehaving simply because they have technology at their disposal. The real problem is the students’ attitude toward learning. When students do misbehave, restricting them from using technology for a short while will be advantageous as it will take away something that can enjoyably be used to learn. When students see that if used properly the handheld devices allow them an entertaining mode of learning, they should be less likely to misuse the devices in the future.
In fact, as students come to realize that learning can be fun when using technology, behavioral problems will likely become less of a factor. Di Chiro agrees that behavioral problems will become minimal when students are actively engaged in learning. Di Chiro stated, “When kids are highly engaged and interested in what we’re doing in school, misbehavior is almost eliminated” (Guzik 2). When learning isn’t monotonous, students will be engaged with the subject matter. Too often, students are disengaged because the method of teaching isn’t one they’re familiar with.
For example, students rarely listen to lectures outside of school. When this type of instruction happens, behavioral problems show up. Yet, if students are being challenged in a mode of learning that they enjoy, such as using iPods, then they will not be as inclined to get off topic or disrupt the class with bad behavior. By using technology, teachers can progressively engage students in learning. Technology shouldn’t be used as simply a means of entertaining students, but should be used as a method to increase student understanding about subject matter.
Di Chiro, who recently attended a conference in Denver about using technology in the classroom, believes that using technology as a teaching tool is a necessity. She said, “We don’t implement [new technology] because of the gee-whiz or whiz-bang factor. Research very strongly supports that utilizing digital tools enhances student learning” (Guzik 2). For students to have the greatest opportunity to succeed in an educational setting, technology must be engaged. Most students are already using technology at home, but they are likely not using technology as an educational tool.
Once students become aware of the possibilities that are available to learn from devices, like iPods, that they use every day, they’ll be more excited about becoming life-long learners. As more and more technology becomes available, classrooms will need to engage students with this technology. Ignoring the opportunities available with technology is a mistake. Many students are already technologically literate. By combining their understanding of technology with educational goals, teachers and students can be satisfied with the learning environment.