Okay . . . I get it.

Laptops can be distracting. You want kids to learn something. You have something to share and assume that kids should be paying attention to you.

I can see your point, I suppose. But liquid nitrogen? Really?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5w-7IpI0fI&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0]

I’m not convinced that your assumption is necessarily true. And thanks to the work of Phillip Schlechty, I’ve got my own educational assumptions about the current situation in education:

  • Students are expected to do quality work even when the work given to them lacks quality.
  • Work given students while in school is not as engaging as activities they attend to outside of school.
  • Today’s schools are better than ever at doing what they used to do.
  • The attendance of students can be commanded but their attention must be earned.

But I don’t think that we as educators like talking about these kinds of things. We want to live in that fantasy world where all kids would come to school prepared to learn and hang on our every lecture.

And one way to live in that fantasy world is to attempt to ban laptops and other “distracting” items from the classroom. A recent article in the Washington Post documents the movement across the country to do just that.

Really?

We’re still so certain that we’re the only ones that have access to knowledge? We’re still not sure that constructivist learning is an effective strategy? We still haven’t bought into research-based methods of engaging kids?

And yes . . . I understand that technology can be a distraction. But to assume that we don’t need to change how we do our jobs and that we can return to that fantasy world by banning laptops is just wrong.

The Post article does acknowledge this idea:

Plenty of professors still allow laptops. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an associate professor of media studies and law at U-Va., generally permits them in his classes. He remembers his own college diversion: reading newspapers surreptitiously on the floor beneath his desk. He believes that, ultimately, it is a professor’s job to hold the class’s attention.

“If students don’t want to pay attention, the laptop is the least of your problems,” he said.

There will be times when I might need to use an interactive lecture as part of instruction and I’ll ask kids to close their laptop lids. But I’m a firm believer in the ability of both teacher and students to use technology to create quality work, provide engaging tasks and enhance learning.

The result? Kids learn more.

The bonus? You’ll save tons on liquid nitrogen.

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