During my ongoing curation of articles about learning, digital tools and social media, I recently came across this article exploring perspectives on social media in the lecture theatres. Although the article was primarily examining post secondary perspectives, I would argue the same discussions are relevant in K12. The discussion was centred around various viewpoints on whether or not students:
be allowed (by profs) to bring technology to class
are distracted by having access to social media and
Two interviewees interviewed commented that “… because the students are most likely taking notes. Many don’t use pen and paper, and rely on their devices. She says students are old enough to decide if they are to learn or not.” and “My view is they are old enough to choose and multitask (and choose to fail too),“. Meanwhile, others choose to dictate “no access”.
Now, if I put a personal perspective on this and let you observe my learning mode, this is what you would see. Typically I use 2 devices … taking notes on my iPad using notability – not just for notes – adding audio recording, and insert photos for context for a more complete package. On the second device I organize lists, todos, ideas and share via social media, typically Twitter but this could easily be a Facebook group, G+ community, LinkedIn or open Google doc. I reiterate – this is MY style. This is how I learn best. Paper and pen doesn’t work for me.
Why not let students choose what works best for them – student voice. To me, letting students choose what tools they use and how they organize shows a strength based approach to student learning. What benefit is there in forcing students to function in a way that may not be self directed and self optimized?
I recently had an opportunity to enjoy a site visit to John Mahood PS, a WRDSB K-5 school to see a their technology use in action.
Under the leadership of principal Tracy Tait, the staff has been working hard over the last 3 years to explore new effective ways to utilize technology to enable student learning in new ways, change and improve practice and share their successes.
The traditional lab at the school has been dismantled and the desktops have been redistributed throughout the school. The mobile technology (iPads and Chromebooks) within the school has been allocated so that each classroom has a minimum of 6 to 8 devices to share among the students. The lab space is now used as a “tech lounge” – more of a flexible creative work space.
In a site walk through, Tracy commented that she expects staff to integrate mobile technology into the learning environment as part of their daily practice. I enjoyed observing a couple of classes during silent reading time and seeing that student had a choice in both what they read and HOW they read it: paper based, via iPads or Chromebooks. Talk about a great example of student voice and choice!
The school focus on choice for students is making a noticeable difference. Several staff commented about technology options providing choice and independence for students. In some cases, the use of technology created benefits in socialization between students both in and out of class. In conversation, it was noted that technology use improves the focus on learning which in turn impacts behaviour in a positive way. In some cases, the use of technology removes frustration when paper and pencil based tasks create an obstacle for students. The result is increased participation through differentiated approaches.
This video captures some of the observations and thinking of students and staff at the school.
Note: The video and story presentations are published with permission.