When it comes to "technology" use in schools, every responsible educator's first concerns should be student safety and educational suitability. I am suggesting that we ban one of the most potentially harmful technologies of all -- the pencil. We must eliminate them from schools because:
Oh, sure, kids might actually use a pencil to take notes or compose a paper -- but really, what's the chance of that?
Sounds pretty absurd, doesn't it? But listen to the reasons teachers and administrators on our district technology committee gave for banning iPods and MP3 players from the classroom:
Oh, sure, kids might actually use them to study, to replay their French vocabulary lesson, or to listen to audio books, an NPR broadcast, or a teacher-created lecture -- but really, what's the chance of that?
One of my biggest worries has always been that by denying access in school to technologies that students find useful and meaningful, we make school more and more irrelevant to our "Net Genners." (One of our students on the advisory board had the courage to say he concentrates better in study hall and the library when his digital music player drowns out other distractions.) When are we going to learn to use the kids' devices for their benefit rather than invent excuses to outlaw them?
My experience is that the more familiar educators are with a new technology, the less likely they are to restrict its use by students. When we old-timers experience a technology's benefit ourselves, the more we understand its benefit to students.
Is an iPod on your holiday wish list? Add it -- for your students' sake.
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