Often when I speak about my passion about EdTech to people who are not comfortable with technology, the first thing they always bring up is behaviour management. I hear phrases like ‘But don’t the students just play games?’ or ‘But how do you stop them just going on Facebook/Twitter etc.’
Many schools try and block access to social media to stop students from becoming ‘distracted’, or only install ‘educational’ programs/apps on their devices. This does not work. This tech-savvy teacher was once a tech-savvy student and, believe me, there is always a way around the blocks schools place on computers.
Instead of spending time blocking everything deemed remotely ‘uneducational’, both teachers and administrators should focus on teaching students how to use social media and games appropriately. Teach students how to use social media to follow breaking news, or to seek answers, and help others with their questions. Teach students how games like Minecraft can teach them maths, writing and social skills. Not only will this help students in a technological world, it will also make their learning relevant to their lives, rather than separate to it.
That’s not to say that with engaging lessons that utilise technology, students will never be distracted. Sometimes they will, just like they used to write notes to each other, ask questions to their eraser (with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ written on respective sides), look at the person they have a crush on or draw characters in the margins of their workbooks.
There will always be some distractions to learning, whether that is paper, pens and erasers or iPads and netbooks. The important thing is to have clear expectations, logical rewards/consequences and engaging lessons.