Tied to technology


Normally, when I sit down to write a blog post, I have a solution in mind. Or, one evolves as I’m typing. I think I have a solution to this but it goes against everything that I believe in. But maybe that needs to change.

I go back as far as the mindset that everything would be all right in education if we could just put a computer in the hands of every student. I’d be (as a student) and we’d (as a teacher) setting the world on fire by writing the next great program.

These days, the “computer in every hand” is here. Are students writing the next best thing? The answer is a resounding no. I’ve chatted with many teachers who indicate that technology is everywhere for kids. Technology is distracting all the time for kids.

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

I’m as bad as anyone. I’m going out for a coffee with a good friend this morning and I’ll be taking my phone with me. I’ll discretely leave it in my pants pocket or face down on the table. I do not have any ring tones for notifications; it just vibrates and also sends a message to my watch.

As good as the conversation will be as we haven’t been face to face for a couple of months, when that vibration starts, I’ll either turn over the phone and glance at the notification or look down at my wrist. I’m absolutely certain about it. I feel really bad at the moment knowing that this will happen because it’s rude and a sign that I’m not hanging on every word of the conversation.

It’s become part of me. Even 30 minutes ago while walking the dog the morning, I got a notification and I was able to operate the phone in my left hand which is holding the leash. You don’t know what was in my right hand. As it turns out, the message could have waited until I got home. And yet, the fact that a notification was sent to me meant somehow that it was important. I do have the phone and watch set to sleep at night so that’s time out.

Amplify all this to the classroom and we have a problem.

Last evening, Alfred Thompson shared this blog post with me.

I’ve had enough of teaching

It’s a fairly long read but absolutely nailed the reality for so many teachers these days. I shared it and watched the notifications flow as I was watching television. I can’t actually remember what we were watching but I do remember that the post generated so many responses.

The solution is simple. Don’t allow smartphones in classrooms. Anyone can see that.

There’s another message that rings true in this reading though. “The system is broken”. I know of a school that did collect smartphones during the period of the day and returned them at the end of the day.

Two problems:

  • there were no longer enough computers for every student to have one
  • parents complained to the principal who stuck with the plan so they went to a superintendent who overruled the school – the parents’ logic “what if we have an emergency and I need to contact them right away?

    Do you remember those lunch and end-of-day announcements indicating that the following students should report to the office for an important message?

So old school and yet maybe that’s where this needs to be headed.

I know that we rightly can blame COVID for this. Everybody became a computer “expert” or “entertainee” during these times. There is indeed much more interesting stuff out there than Mr. Peterson’s riveting lesson about for loops.

I’ve browsed some of the upcoming computer conferences and nothing seems to have changed. The keynotes are all about the latest and great in technology and, quite frankly, the kind of stuff that always brought me in early to sit near the front. Is that broken as well?

I look around at those who would normally be keynote speakers at things that I would attend. It’s still all about technology and how it’s going to change education for the better. I couldn’t find anyone who acknowledges what we’re current experiencing.

I started this post by acknowledging that I don’t have the answer. Even after typing all this, I don’t have that answer. What Alfred shared with me is still haunting my mind.

What is the answer? If I was brave, I’d leave my smartphone and watch at home while I go for coffee. I just know that I’d be backing out of the driveway when that feeling that I’ve forgotten something will hit.

OTR Links 06/22/2022


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.