Technology & Behaviour Management

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.

Make the Call

Even adults get distracted by tech sometimes…

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Rebecca Davies


  1. Spot on Rebecca!

    On the issue of distraction, I have the task of reviewing internet logs across our school domain to keep on top of students and their acceptable use of ICT. When logs come up with websites outside the norm, the first questions I always ask are “what were the intentions and expectations of the lesson?”, and “how was the lesson designed with student engagement in mind?”.


    • Hi Anthony,
      I agree, we have to make sure student engagement is at the front of our minds to stop students’ attention from wandering. On reflection, I also think some students like to try and outsmart the system. Looking at teachers who are confident with technology, and those who are not, it is the students who are in the classes where the teachers are not confident that seem to have the most behavioural issues around the tech. I know the students in my class definitely tried it out at the start of the year, but because I know all the hand movements that indicate distraction on the iPad (the five finger swipe when I walk over is a dead giveaway!) and used the class consequences, it stopped very quickly. Perhaps we also need to focus on educating staff about what to look for, so they can tell when students are/are not on task.


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