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Coffee Beans and Cell Phones

January 19, 2007 by Dustin Swanson · 2 Comments · reflections

I’m taking an online class from the UofR on educational leadership of technology and we are discussing an interesting issue this week. The issue is that students expectations with using technology are often very different from how it is used in schools – or at least what is appropriate use. My contention is that students expectations with technology are built on the expecations that techology:

1) Allows freedom 2) Is a social tool and symbol 3) It is engaging (suduko effect)

I often get concerned when schools first response to some of the social problems created through technology is to ban technology. Worse, it starts being easy to see the technology (cell, IM, mp3, banning sites, etc) as being the problem when in reality it is the way it is being used. As a result, administrators and teachers spend resources developing and enforcing policy to deal with new technologies…why? In the end, the real problem is the disruptive nature of the way the technology is used. I have used the argument that a cell phone is no different than an espresso machine. What I mean is that using a cell phone to text while in math class is really no different than grinding and pressing your favourite speciality coffee during math class – it is disruptive and distracting. My fear is that the more we push these technologies away from education we are creating a digital wall between ourselves and our clients. Moreover, how are we ever going to realize the contributions such technology can make to schools when our solution is to just push them away?  I’ll stop here – my coffee is ready :)

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Dean Shareski

    I think one part of the solution might be to include students in more discussion. They certainly aren’t equipped to make all the decisions but their input would not only be valuable but like including them in rules making, creates ownership.

    Having the espresso machine in the room may be appropriate at times and I’m sure students would have some ideas about how to use. it

    Part of the issue continues to be that teachers do not use these technologies to the same degree and don’t understand how embedded they are becoming.

    As I sit here in my hotel room in the Silcon Valley, I’m reflecting on just how connected everyone is here. Virtually everywhere wireless access is available (usually free). Everyone, young and old toggles back and forth between their Treos, laptops and ipods. Even the transit system is wireless. This is real and it’s coming to a school near you…..I’ll be sure to have a Starbucks tomorrow on you!

  • sunnywilliams

    So, what does this mean to us in the world of education? What options do we have? Teachers routinely march students to the office complaining that they have a cell phone, iPod, … Are there ways we can incorporate these technologies into our instruction so that students are more engaged and aren’t being disruptive? I believe that we need to be innovative in how we integrate the popular technologies into our classes. How to go about it, I am not sure, but I do know we need to do “it.”

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