This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Technology – Distraction or Opportunity?

Distraction or Opportunity? A Guide to Embracing Technology in the ClassroomThis article by Julie Tausend on the EdTech Magazine website – Distraction or Opportunity? A Guide to Embracing Technology in the Classroom – asks the question as to whether classroom technology, or the BYOD mentality, can be harmful or an opportunity to learning. It argues that it can (as I would agree) but specifies the limitations to this approach, on which I think we’d all agree:

“Engaged students use the opportunity to make additions and annotations, to downloaded slides or to transcribe the lecture using word-processing programs. The problem, of course, is that not every student is that engaged.”

One element of the article, however, I would disagree with, and this is:

“One downside of technology in the classroom is that it’s more difficult to get students’ to turn away from their computers to participate in discussion. Technology is not always a distraction in the classroom, but hiding behind computer screens can lead to minimal interaction with professors during lectures. If you want dynamic discussion and interaction with students, ask them to close their laptops.”

Instead of asking them to close their laptops or put their tablet away … give them something meaningful to do with it: get them to find out some supporting evidence, get them to use their Facebook or Twitter activity (which is what you’re really fearful of, isn’t it) to find another student, this time in another country, who is also studying the same topic and bring them into the classroom too (engage and encourage social learning). Give them 10 minutes to bring something new to the discussion, something that even you don’t know. If they’re online use it to your / their advantage, use the Internet and the connections they’ve made and grow their understanding of how it can benefit (or not) a class discussion or joint assignment.

“It’s best to embrace the technology and work with your educational technologist or instructional designer to determine the best tools and methodologies to enhance your course with technology and support the course objectives.”

How do you use technology in your classroom, and what techniques do you use to engage those how hide behind their laptop screen or phone?

Image source: Music Time by TheirHistory (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Learning Technology Assistant, University of Leicester.

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