I want all of the students in all of the classes to have access to devices. I will always suggest Chromebooks, or iPads, or BYOD. And seemingly forever, people will ask, “But doesn’t that make it easier for students to cheat and harder to monitor behavior?”
Yes, it does
It does make cheating “easier.” And it does make management “harder.” But it only does those things for teachers afraid to let go of their classrooms a little. That sounded harsh. Let me rephrase.
Cheating and classroom management are issues in the digital age no more than they have been for years. We should combat those things in the same way that we always have. When a student cheats, we have a discussion with that student or the class as a whole on what cheating is, why we don’t approve of it, and how we can work to avoid it as a temptation. Classroom management is and always has been challenging. The best way for us to get great behavior and hard work out of our students is to present them with opportunities to be engaged and challenged on a personal level. Using technology does this inherently.
Of course, there are other ways to combat these issues. The first way is to redefine what cheating is and what it isn’t. Is searching for an answer using Google considered cheating? My answer is almost always ‘no.’ If someone asks me a question that I cannot answer, I ALWAYS grab my phone from my pocket and look it up. Am I cheating? No, of course not. I am using my resources. A resource that I always have at my disposal. Our students will have even more powerful resources at their disposal in the future. Why are we concerned if they cannot recall a simple fact? This opens us up to teach more in depth about topics and can force students to think about issues in a more constructive and critical way.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying
OK, so I was never really worried….I just wanted to use that line. The most important thing for teachers to remember is that the teacher is not the most important person in the room. Students are the most important. When evaluating what devices should be in classrooms, ask yourself, “Will this improve student learning?” Since that answer is yes, the negatives will get outweighed. Ideally, the student will have two devices in class; one issued by the school and whatever mobile device the student already has. That is the part that scares teachers the most because now the students have the ability to communicate with others. My answer to this is to set clear expectations for the use of the student device.
Also, maybe stop worrying so much. If our goal is truly to set our students up for success in the future, then we need to teach them how to manage communication. If you walk into an office in 2017, it will not be a bunch of people sitting in cubicles. It will be people working from all corners of the office. They will be on their laptops and cell phones. They will be creating and collaborating and these things will happen spontaneously, not just when they have meetings. Shouldn’t school reflect the real world?
My plea to you is to allow devices to happen in the classroom as a tool for learning. It will enhance your lessons. It will free you up from being the “answer” person. It will teach students valuable lessons that they will use for the rest of their lives.