Throughout my teaching career technology has always been a hot topic within the classroom. There has always been a divide between teachers that feel technology is welcome in the classroom and teachers who see it as the bane of their existence and has caused nothing but trouble. When I first started teaching I felt like the latter. It was one more issue that caused a distraction and only piled onto the classroom management issue that all new teachers face. As I have gone through my Masters journey my opinion has changed, I have realized that technology can be a very powerful tool within the classroom if it is used correctly.
Last winter, while taking part in a course by Alec Couros, I decided that I needed to look into the way that I used technology within my classroom. Not only the way that I used technology but the freedom that I gave my students when it came to using technology. Like I stated earlier, in the beginning of my teaching career I believed that technology (specifically cell phones) were a distraction and played a negative part in the classroom. Recently I have realized that technology is a distraction if students are not properly trained in way it should be used in the classroom, at home and in public. Technology is not going away, if anything it will become a bigger part of our lives. It has become very clear that students need to be taught not only how to use technology, but etiquette and responsibility when it comes to technology. I used to believe that the only way to have control over technology was to collect cell phones at the start of the day, I now believe that when students are taught or given proper guidelines on technology use technology is not a distraction but a very powerful tool. For this reason last winter I developed a Digital policy for my classroom. Even over the matter of one year my beliefs on technology have changed and I do believe it needs to be altered, but it is a starting point. One change that I believe I will make was from Alec Couros, from his CBC article on device bans within schools, the idea of green, yellow and red light in regards to when technology can be used.
With regards to my digital policy and using the comparing it to a play I found it really intriguing….
When looking at digital policy that I have created for my classroom there are two parties that are greatly impacted by its implementation; the students and myself. First off, the students for the simple reason that there are guidelines and expectations put on their technology use. They are expected to use technology appropriately if they want to continue to use it within the classroom. Second, myself for the simple reason that I need to beware the risks that there are of letting my students use cell phones and other forms of technology in the classroom. If used inappropriately it could become a distraction or a tool for improper behaviour such as bullying. A secondary party that could come into play is the administrator because they will need to know about the policy and the consequences of improper use.
The props within this scenario are any form of technology that the students are using on a day to day basis within the classroom. This could be chromebooks, cell phones, ipods, etc.
This element of technology is the most difficult. There are many conflicts when it comes to technology in the classroom and letting students access devices. I will only focus on a few that have had an impact on my classroom.
- BYOD – The biggest issue that stems from BYOD is that it is extremely difficult for teachers to monitor what students are using their devices for. Students can seem to be working very hard, but be using their device for something entirely different. At least on school provided technology it is a lot easier to monitor what technology is being used for.
- Cyberbullying – This issue does not happen from within the classroom very often, but frequently it is happening outside the school and brought into the school. Issues that are happening on social media outside of the classroom make there way to school and cause a concern or distraction for the students. When this happens parents will call into school and want the school to get involved. This often causes parents to believe that devices should not be permitted within the school. I often explain that proper use needs to be taught and responsibility must be given to the students to accomplish this.
- Staff – Other staff not supporting the use of technology in the school. Not allowing students to use technology when given permission
- Sneeky Teens – One major issue that I have run into is that older students know how to beat the system. There is always an app or website that teachers do not know about and students know how to use it. These students have been on technology their whole lives, while we are often still learning how to use it.
Although my digital policy is far from perfect I believe it is a start. I have come along way from where I was when I first started teaching and I believe that I will continue to grow as an educator when it comes to technology.