A quiet invasion
This image shows students taking notes. Whenever I show this image, I see many people in my audiences nodding in recognition. It seems to be a familiar, every day occurrence in some classrooms. In others it is rare or unlikely, because mobile phones are banned in some schools and colleges.
Teachers might respond to this image in two ways. Either they can bemoan the fact that they have spent an enormous amount of time developing the content, only for students to capture its entirety in seconds with just a few simple button presses. They will ask whether this a trivialisation of their content, or an undesirable development that leads to superficial learning. Alternatively they can celebrate that learners are adept enough at using their personal technologies to make learning easier and more productive for themselves. They can support the idea on the basis that most learners will use that content later for reflection.
We might argue that the first response is based on a model of learning that privileges the teacher as the arbiter of knowledge, whilst the second response represents an approach that places students at the centre of the learning process. The first response, I suggest, might indicate that those teachers feel learning should follow a prescribed track of content delivery that is assimilated and ultimately re-presented by learners in an acceptable format to demonstrate that they have internalised that content. The second response suggests to me that students can be freed up to capture content, archive and organise it, repurpose and develop that content to facilitate deeper learning experiences, and share it with their peers to widen its influence in a discursive environment. Which model are you most familiar with in your classroom?
Personal technologies are proliferating and they are multi-functional. They are quietly invading the classroom, in the bags and pockets of your students. Mobile phones can be used for many purposes, most of which can either support good learning or undermine it. As educators we each need to ask ourselves some serious questions, such as: What is my attitude to student use of technology in the classroom/learning space? Am I threatened by its use, or do I feel comfortable when students use their personal tools in the learning environment? The answer to these questions will possibly reveal to you not only your attitude to personal technology, but also how you view yourself as an educator and as a professional.
For some teachers, students recording lessons is anathema, whilst for others it is fully encouraged. There are many who are ambivalent. What about students Googling what you say during a lesson to check whether you are correct or accurate or telling the truth? Some teachers feel that this is an undermining or their authority or a challenge to their professionalism. Others see it as a liberating and democratic approach to learning, where the onus is on the student to check all facts and to be critical. Some see the use of personal technologies in the classroom as distracting, disruptive and potentially dangerous. Others see them as an essential, and natural progression of contemporary learning culture. Which are you?
Photo by Lori Cullen
A quiet invasion by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.