Let's let students manage real world distractions

June 13, 2010  |  1:1, Child centered learning, technology  |  Share

Since my recent post on the iPad I have been reading a number of reviews linked to educational use. I keep coming across an assertion that really annoys me, and I think has implications fat wider for education than Apple’s latest shiny device does.

That assertion is that the interface of the iPad only being capable of running one app at a time is a good thing because it will keep students on task, and make it harder for them to flip back to facebook the moment the teacher looks away. The teachers writing this stuff need to wake up! Digital devices are distracting, the Internet is distracting, the entire modern world is distracting. Are we going to prepare students to function effectively in it by shutting it out and locking it down?

We live in a world where the posting of an ancient arcade game on the front page of a search engine can (allegedly) cause $120 million in lost productivity in a single day- I’d say we need to educate people on strategies to avoid distractions! (http://m.guardian.co.uk/?id=102202&story=http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/andrew-clark-on-america/2010/may/25/google-economics)

School should be about engaging pupils in the real world, not shutting them away from it. It might be complicated and it might be hard to prepare for, but it’s what we’ve got to work with or we become irrelevant. So, by all means justify artificial limitations of technology, but please do it in reference to battery life and not to sanitizing and limiting pupils real world experiences.

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