November 2, 2009

Distraction Devices?

Doug Johnson would like to know: "How do we deal with the distractive qualities of technology in schools?" Go to his post and answer him if you've got a good one. I'm sure it depends on if it's elementary, middle, high, or college and beyond. Different ages and technologies would lend themselves to different distractions. I've noticed this is true even without technology.

There's also the worry that the internet and all this texting and chatting and tweeting are all cutting us off from the real live, face to face people and groups in front of us. We're old to "get a first life."

But check out this great nine minute video from TED talks. It's sociologist Stephana Broadbent on how technology actually enables intimacy rather than putting us in our own little bubbles.

Now I know this isn't the same as the school distraction issue, but I think if we were a bit more open to allowing the technological chips fall where they may, we might find it's not as bad as we think it will be. I'm sure there are students using their cellphones to buy or sell drugs or whatever. however, I don't think banning cellphones is the answer. Maybe banning that kid's cell phone. But I'm also sure s/he is clever enough to use another. You may be shocked to know that I was aware of the occasional drug purchase at my own high school back in the days before cell phones and pagers. It didn't seem to be a problem to the truly motivated.

Going to graduate school for me (this time around) has been an interesting experience. This is the first time I've sat through classes in which everyone had their laptops out. Some professors apparently ban this practice. But tell me, if everyone in the class has no laptop or cell or anything other than a paper and a pencil to take notes with, how can you tell they're still not tuning you out? I know I did. I don't need a laptop with twenty-eight tabs open on my browser to zone out when you start to drone on.

It's not a competition either. I hear that one a lot too. "We have to compete with_____" (video games, texting, social networks, etc.) No. Like Ms. Broadbent points out., most of the people are probably going to quickly check on someone in their immediate circle and get back to the business of class. Like I said, this is new to me as well. I was surprised to see someone in one of my classes checking the score of a college ballgame during class last year. Then I thought, hey, s/he's more likely to pay attention now that that itch of curiosity has been scratched.

What do you think?

(image cc wikimedia)