Technology-Use Classroom Policies: Let the Students Decide

Are you in favor of the zero-tolerance, paper and pencil only policy? Or, do you take the-more-the-merrier approach? Something in between?

Technology use in the classroom is the bane of many a teacher’s existence. Teachers struggle with the excellent benefits that technology can provide and the tempting distractions it allows.

So what are the benefits? Note-taking. Reference a large volume of text without the weight. Disability support. Educational support apps/programs. Email. Cloud storage and collaboration.

And the tempting distractions? Let me count the ways…social media, games, internet memes, non-educational apps/programs, text messaging. Even beneficial things can become a distraction, for example email and cloud storage. Students could be working on homework for one class while ignoring the teacher of the class they are currently in. When students snap back to attention, they ask the same questions that have just been asked because they were not listening. Precious class time is wasted in repetition. Then, the students who were paying attention get bored by the repetition and then become distracted by their technological device of choice.

So what is a teacher to do? Let the students decide.

Seriously.

Create a document in Google docs that all students can edit. Give the students a one week deadline to edit policies and consequences as they see fit. Discuss with your students the conundrum you face with technology–your goals versus its distractions.

This will allow the students to feel their desire to use technology is respected. It will invite students to police each other.

Of course, this may not work. Teachers may need to reserve the right to veto outlandish policies or enforce accountability measures. It all really depends on your students. However, if you have found your blanket policies to be ineffective at curbing distractions, perhaps the best strategy is to go straight to the source for feedback.


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