When I first started working at VIU, there were signs on the door of every classroom asking students to turn off their cell phone. People discussed ways to get students to keep the phones put away or turned off (on vibrate IF there was a pressing reason). I, following the culture, asked students to keep their phones and laptops out of the classroom. Only students with special permission were able to use their laptops. About a year or so later, I started to question this concept. I realized that I did not know everything about a topic and students can ask challenging questions that I may not know the answer to. I began to remove the ‘no cell phones’ signs from the doors. I began to ask students to find out and look up information that they did not know. I am only one source of information for students.
They need to be able to make sense of a world where information can come to them from many different places. It is part of my job to help them to build their own personal learning network. By allowing technology in the class, I am helping them to “make sense of, and manage, the incessant waves generated by an increasing sea of information” (Siemens& Tittenberger, 2009, pg. 10).
When other instructors ask about cell phones and computers in the classroom I tell them that I am o.k.with it! Sure, I get Candy Crush sometimes, but in all fairness, those students would probably not be paying attention to me anyways. I need to help students learn how to focus “while undergoing a deluge of distractions” (Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009, pg. 28). If too many are distracted, I need to asses what I am doing, or perhaps call awareness to it. With technology students themselves can find out more details about the topic. Usually they share the information with the class, enriching the learning environment.
It has been a slow, silent, very personal initiative to encourage technology in our building. It is still a work in progress. The signs are almost entirely gone. I have shared my beliefs with many colleagues. While a number do not agree with me, it feels like I am gradually getting somewhere.
Siemens, G. & Tittenberger, P. (2009). Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning