Don’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em: Using electronics in the classroom

KidsonDevices
Does the idea of electronics in the classroom frighten or excite you?

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

        -Ken Olsen, founder of DEC minicomputer company, 1977

We find Olsen’s misguided prediction unreasonable in our current world where the average American household has 5 connected devices, with over 6% using 15 or more, but will we look back on the prominent opinion of the ban of electronic devices in the classroom in years to come?

If you were to create a caricature of today’s average teen, one of the first elements that would come to mind is the excessive cell phone use. Whether they’re Snapchatting goofy selfies en masse, Instagramming the cool places or food they are experiencing, or Wikipedia “fact-checking,” our youths are attached to their devices, and there’s no denying that they are a major source of entertainment.

In fact, a recent study shows that in schools that completely ban cell phones, 58% of students still report having and using them during class. While many assert that this rampant cell phone use poses a problem in the classroom, instead of fighting this technology that students get so wrapped up in, why not embrace it? If students’ interest lies more in their shiny screens, why not channel this interest to fuel a more interesting, dynamic lesson?

“BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) classrooms faced a lot of initial skepticism, but there is no doubt that their successes may garner more attention over the course of 2014. With the cropping up of adaptive learning programs, content sharing platforms, and even entire online courses, the education technology industry is embracing this idea and shaping a new approach to educating our bright young minds.

The Los Angeles Unified School District intends to provide every high school student in the district with iPads by fall 2015. While this initiative is receiving particularly heavy scrutiny in the media, LAUSD is hardly alone. In October, Google Chromebook Vice President Caesar Sengupta recently told Business Insider that 22% of American school districts are using Google Chromebooks. If the edtech industry and schools follow the current trend, it won’t be too many years before opposition to classroom technology seems as silly a concept as Ken Olsen’s wildly mistaken prediction of the superfluousness of personal computers.

Kelly Mason Edcite pictureOur guest blogger today is Kelly Mason, a freelance copywriter in the Bay Area Edtech world and a former teacher. After obtaining her B.S. in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, Kelly taught English to international students in Beijing before transitioning into the materials side of education. Fueled by coffee and delighted by well-crafted puns, Kelly enjoys playing soccer, finding quality stand-up comedy, and learning to code.

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