The debate over how and when to use devices in the classroom has benn long-standing. On the one hand, smartphones and devices promise to connect us to a wide variety of experiences and knowledge. On the other hand, they are also a distraction, scientifically designed by some of the world's top companies such as Apple and Facebook, to make us feel compelled to look when they ding or buzz. In a recent article written by Anya Kamenetz, she spoke with four professors, a high school teacher, a psychiatrist and a technologist to get a range of different views on how cell phones, electronic devices, and laptops should be limited in a classroom environment. The answers vary widely. But, one of the most interesting answers was to “fight technology with technology” using FlipD, a phone app that limits the use of your phone.
You can set a timer to lock yourself out of all functions except for basic texts and phone calls. Rather than instituting a ban, the company encourages professors to offer extra credit for installing the app and using it during class. Then, the teachers need to step up and create engaging lessons to complement the app.
- It helps students stay focused
- It measures student and classroom metrics
- It also rewards students for staying on task
My takeaway is that there are times and places for devices. I think good teachers tend to understand this. They use a variety of teaching methods. They get students to collaborate and debate in small groups, use technology when appropriate by giving students something productive to do with their devices, and institute a ban when needed.
Student distractions have been going on since school began (not necessarily when phones came out). I would really like to hear what the students have to say about distractability and device use as well. I think it comes down to teacher comfort level, engagement of students, and the subject matter. I think there are times and places for devices, but I can also see why some teachers want them banned. I would check out FlipD and see if it helps give you a third option. I would love to hear how it goes.