iPads as Distractions

iPads bring us all kinds of new opportunities to research, create, and collaborate on one device. We are truly fortunate to have these 21st Century devices in our classrooms. But they can also allow students to bring the age-old arts of doodling and note passing to a new level.

Since the beginning of time, whenever people sit in a class, a meeting, a performance or ceremony of any kind, there are those who find it hard to resist doodling, fiddling, whispering, or passing notes. I remember receiving detention my sophomore year for passing notes with my friend, Kathy, and I still whisper to my neighbors in faculty meetings. Long ago I mastered the ability to sit in a class or meeting and appear to be captivated by the speaker while in my head I am writing a grocery list or in my lap I am writing a lesson plan. The iPad (and cell phones) allow us to do this on an even more covert level.

Today children are using cellphones, iPods, or iPads as they sit in restaurants, places of worship, and theaters. Instead of teaching them to be patient and sit respectfully, attentively, some parents are giving them an alternative. Are they conditioning these children to expect to be entertained and connected ALL THE TIME? What does this mean for classroom teachers? If we don’t hold their attention in class, will they think it’s acceptable to use their e-device to fill in the gaps?

I’m sure students are at least as skillful as I am at appearing to be attentive. Maybe more. They can sit quietly, iPad on desk, deeply involved in their task. But what is their task? How can we ensure that when we hand our students an iPad they will stay focused on the assignment we have given them? After all, we are handing them the Internet, a camera, a voice recorder, a bookshelf, a word processor, an email application, an atlas, a collection of videos, paints, canvases, puppets, and potentially, much more. Add to that the fact that what a student creates on the iPad can remain on the iPad in the applications used. This means the next group using the iPads have access to it.

We have an Acceptable Use Policy in place and we have a set of iPad guidelines. But we need more. As a faculty, we need to be on the same track where this is concerned. These are shared devices. We are all stakeholders.

I am curious to know what your thoughts are. Please take a moment and post a comment or suggestion by clicking on the comment link below. Perhaps by putting all our heads together we can come up with some good answers to guide us.

Categories: Technology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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