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EdTech Update




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Instructions for iPad use

This Thanksgiving was an early Christmas at our house for the grandsons. While Paul and Miles could wait until December 25th, Grandpa couldn't. Last night they opened their gifts - new iPads.

For nearly three years, the boys have fought over using my iPad. They love the games, of course. But I also see how many other educational niches these devices can fill. So, the iPads came with strings.

First, the "screen time" limit* that Mom and Dad set applies to the iPads as well as other screens in your house, I told the boys. Second, I asked them to be thoughtful about how they spend their time with these powerful, addictive tools. "Is what you are doing on the iPad making you smarter?" To help them remember to occasionally reflect on what their use, the photo below is their lock screen background ...

I am not real sure it will do a lot of good, but it is an attempt.

These bright boys will live their entire lives surrounded by electronic tools and temptations. Denying access is an unrealistic solution. Access accompanied by the excellent parenting they get from my daughter and son-in-law is their best and only chance to they have to learn some self-discipline and common sense. 

* Will the definition of "screen time" in families need to become more nuanced? Traditionally it has been watching TV or movies and playing video games - media consumption. But should reading an e-book count as "screen time"? Writing a paper or creating a video for a school assignment? Practicing math facts with a game? Building an imaginary world using Minecraft? Texting to Grandpa? Gets tricky.

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Reader Comments (2)

"Denying access is an unrealistic solution" - brilliant!

I am realizing that, similar to other toys and tools, students will find a way to use the technology - which typically means another student will less knowledge, less understanding of the device, and more unnecessary and useless apps.

I will be adding some additional requirements to my next semester class, and I am wondering how the other teachers and administrators will respond when they students say "We are required to use our (insert device) in Mr. Gorman's class - why not here?"

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I think you hit the nail on the head about how change may just be student-driven. If one teacher does something that kids find enjoyable, useful, etc., they (and their parents) will rightfully request why all teachers are not doing this. This is how we got people using the assignments portion of the online grading program - parents wanted ALL teachers to be posting assignments. I've also seen when one level of school allows something, the upper divisions also have to allow it. We started, back in the day, by giving email to middle school kids, who then insisted on having it as freshmen.

Thanks as always for the comment,


November 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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