Tag Archives: student engagement

iPhones in class?

21 Jun

Abilene Christian University has done some research into using iphones in their curriculum. The video (way down below) shows what it might look like to have the iPhones fully integrated into university life. This fall all freshman attending the university will be receiving and iphone. This is the first university to undertake this sort of project. I applaud the fact that instead of trying to take technology out of student hands, they are coming up with innovative ways to make the technology useful in education.

So many times schools want to shut off what kids are using to the point that it takes away a teaching tool. Our district has a policy against iPods in middle and high schools. While I understand that some kids can and do abuse technology, by making such a drastic rule, teachers can’t put the iPods in their hands for a meaningful learning experience. I truly hope that soon, school and district administrators across the country will see that we should be taking what interests the kids and using that as a medium to help them learn. How different are these two scenarios:

Kid 1– Sits in the back of history class doddeling in a notebook, not paying attention to anything in the classroom.
Kid 2– Sits in the back of math class texting a friend, not paying attention to anything in the classroom.

Not much, neither kid is paying attention. Kid 2 would be suspended for using a cellphone in many schools. Kid 1 would be ignored or told to put it away. Would we take away his pencil and paper though? Doubtful, but I would be willing to bet that kid 2 no longer has his phone. Some may say well “he broke the rule of having a phone in class”. True, but the fundamental issue is that NEITHER child was learning!

A better response would be to realize that kid 1 is artistic and kid 2 is into tech and to craft assignments based on these interests that would engage them. Kids have a natural curiosity and I truly believe that 99% of children desire to learn and show that learning, but most of the time, we give too many restrictions and parameters and they give up because we don’t let them use the tools that best teach them or help them convey what they have learned.

Why not have kid 1 use his artistic abilities to recreate a scene from history, to create what propaganda might have looked like, or design a 3D representation of the battlefield? Why not have kid 2 create a tutorial video for posting on youtube about the current math assignment? In both scenarios, the students use what they know well to demonstrate what they don’t know so well, and both learn in the process. Isn’t that experience preparing them for the future more so than listening to a lecture and cranking out a worksheet?