Technology – Distraction or Opportunity?

Distraction or Opportunity? A Guide to Embracing Technology in the ClassroomThis article by Julie Tausend on the EdTech Magazine website – Distraction or Opportunity? A Guide to Embracing Technology in the Classroom – asks the question as to whether classroom technology, or the BYOD mentality, can be harmful or an opportunity to learning. It argues that it can (as I would agree) but specifies the limitations to this approach, on which I think we’d all agree:

“Engaged students use the opportunity to make additions and annotations, to downloaded slides or to transcribe the lecture using word-processing programs. The problem, of course, is that not every student is that engaged.”

One element of the article, however, I would disagree with, and this is:

“One downside of technology in the classroom is that it’s more difficult to get students’ to turn away from their computers to participate in discussion. Technology is not always a distraction in the classroom, but hiding behind computer screens can lead to minimal interaction with professors during lectures. If you want dynamic discussion and interaction with students, ask them to close their laptops.”

Instead of asking them to close their laptops or put their tablet away … give them something meaningful to do with it: get them to find out some supporting evidence, get them to use their Facebook or Twitter activity (which is what you’re really fearful of, isn’t it) to find another student, this time in another country, who is also studying the same topic and bring them into the classroom too (engage and encourage social learning). Give them 10 minutes to bring something new to the discussion, something that even you don’t know. If they’re online use it to your / their advantage, use the Internet and the connections they’ve made and grow their understanding of how it can benefit (or not) a class discussion or joint assignment.

“It’s best to embrace the technology and work with your educational technologist or instructional designer to determine the best tools and methodologies to enhance your course with technology and support the course objectives.”

How do you use technology in your classroom, and what techniques do you use to engage those how hide behind their laptop screen or phone?

Image source: Music Time by TheirHistory (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

  • Julien Schremmer

    I find your idea about having students ‘bring something new to the discussion’ using the internet really interesting! Teachers often struggle to use all the resources the internet provides in class. Having the student use his or her creativity to contribute to a discussion seems like a great way to take advantage of this pool of knowledge!

  • Paul

    Nice article on education technology. Thanks for the great and critical analysis on ed tech!


  • julietausend

    Hey! Thanks for sharing my article. I do agree that you can engage learners via the laptop- without asking them to shut the lid. I recommend live-blogigng, use of curating websites such as Scoop-IT, and social meeting during class. My editor cut out my suggestions! My unedited article will be posted on my website by September 13, 2013.-Julie Tausend (