Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Banning Devices from the Classroom

A Surprising Post from Me (and Clay Shirky). 

I love technology: my desktop, laptop, tablet, iPad, smart phone. GPS Wi-Fi Bluetooth. Apps, software and the internet of things. Devices and software that know me, inform, nudge, update and adjust. 

I Google this and Google that, especially the new functions that support instruction and learning in higher education (Apps, Scholar, Drive). They make me a better teacher and my students more prepared digital citizens, critical thinkers, consensus-based team members. Love it all. 

But I'll be the first to admit that I have an advanced "monkey mind" when my devices beep, bing and buzz. I am easily distracted from hard, deep thinking by the lure of the next info-moment. I can disconnect from the present due to the lure of what I'm missing out there. I have learned to set boundaries and close my email, silence my devices, be here now when attempting to do good, hard work.

Mindfulness matters. I know this about myself and I have the age, wisdom, commitment to my work to do that. (Most of the time.) My students do not, for a diverse variety of reasons. One reason is that "learning" is not their career passion. Another is that my course may not be as exciting to them as it is to me. Maybe they don't have practice in disengaging from the digital. So they come to class with monkey mind. 

I've been aware of this for years, and adapting my teaching for years as a way of integrating their own technology into the curriculum. But while some are Googling the topic, answering my polls, collaborating on the shared notes -- others are checking Facebook and texting in their laps and our course is the less for their moment-to-moment absence. 

We can stop the monkey madness. Here's Clay's take on doing so: ban laptops, tablets and cell phones from the classroom. I concur.

Image CC BY-ND from