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EdTech Update




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7 management techniques for dealing with tech in the classroom


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I've decided that any attempt to "manage" how teachers use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops during inservices or workshops is futile. It's a waste of my time and it frustrates the teachers in the classes.

And that decision is actually working out quite well.

While these experiences have simply engraved my conviction that control is illusory a little deeper into the belief system area of my brain, they have also given me some ideas how all educators might manage device-infused classrooms as LWDs (Learners With Devices) become the norm rather than the exception in many schools.

Some management techniques to consider:

  1. Have clear and simple rules for the use of technology in your classroom. And let students know what they are. Mine are pretty easy: Student-owned technologies such as cell phones and laptops may be used in the classroom when there is not a whole-group activity, when their use does not distract other students, and when the district's Acceptable Use Policy is followed. 
  2. Require all devices be visible during class time. Technology that is visible is less likely to be misused. No devices under the desktop, in the pocket, in the book bag, etc..
  3. Have planned, sanctioned means of online (back channel) discussion. Learners need a means of communicating laterally - among themselves. This will happen whether officially sanctioned or not. Set up a TodaysMeet, GoSoapBox, Socrative, or Wallwisher site to facilitate online discussions - and as a form of group notetaking.
  4. Have approved activities, readings, resources that students can use when otherwise disengaged in or finished with F2F activities. If students finish required work early (or wish to time shift work), there should be a number of choices of other online activities which they won't get in trouble for doing - working on a shared document, reading a supplemental article or book, playing a game that reinforces a curricular objective. Think positive alternatives.
  5. Have students work in groups whenever possible. I find students are more focused and on task when working in groups. The team usually does not approve when a member wanders on to Facebook instead of participating in the school work.
  6. Walk around the class. 'Nuf said.
  7. Accept the fact some learners will just tune out and getting them on task may not be worth disrupting those on task. Not everybody learns from lectures or discussion. Accept that even your most riveting monologue will not be appreciated by 100% of every group. Good classes are about students learning, not about teacher ego. 

We can fight, limit, complain about, ignore, and deny but we cannot prevent learners having and wanting to use their technologies during class. The sooner we learn to take advantage of these powerful tools, the happier everyone will be - student and teacher.

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Reader Comments (7)

#2 is outstanding - take away their desire to be sneaky; once it becomes a normal part of the class I believe it will lose it's "magic". I also see that other students will self-regulate in order to keep their classmates from texting ("Hey, you can't do that because I can't do that!"

#7 is something I decided a few years ago. Let students learn on their own, and give them a couple of different ways to get the information from you.


January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I would like to say that #2 was of my own devising, but it was a rule established by one of our excellent middle school staffs.


January 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

This is a fabulous list. And the cartoon even more so.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill Storm

Thanks, Bill. You gotta love Hugh's Gaping Void drawings!


January 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I really like your list. I do, however, have a problem with the implication of the cartoon. If we accept the popular premise that meteors killed out dinosaurs, and we further extrapolate that premise to the idea of teaching technology to teachers, then we are saying that 1. teachers are dinosaurs (ok, fine, I can go there with you); 2. technology (the meteor) will kill off the teachers in the same fashion that meteors killed off the dinosaurs (ah, there's the rub).

In order to "sell" technology to teachers, we cannot simultaneously tell them that computers will kill them off. There will NEVER be a replacement for the human element.

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterK Silver

Hi K,

There is an old saying that "Technology won't replace teachers. But teachers who know how to use technology will." The meteor didn't kill off all animals - only those who couldn't adapt. I've certainly seen this with librarians, travel agents, booksellers, and a host of other occupations that had to change or die.

I'll stand by the cartoon.


February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks Bill for sharing and understanding us in the way of yours I Need An Essay

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Liver

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