One of these days, I’m going to ask a student how he or she feels about learning by computer. All of my classes are equipped with IPads or Chromebooks, from kindergarten through middle school.
On very few occasions do I have the opportunity to view or interact with the online activities. It’s my responsibility to ensure that they are doing literacy or math and not YouTube or SnapChat.
Because I’m not an expert in online learning, I can’t quite fathom why the school computers can’t block certain sites. It may be a misplaced sense or trust or the need to access sites for specific activities. But it’s not unusual for me to find a student who has searched for porn, much to the surprise and amazement of his peers.
But it’s every day that kids are on computers that I wonder if those devices do a better job at curriculum than live teachers can do. As I’ve previously observed, electronic devices can’t apply bandaids to injuries, real or imagined. They can’t intervene when bullying occurs and they definitely don’t return hugs.
When I ask a student about an opinion on computer time, qualifying that student will be the most complicated part of an inquiry. My student must be credible, articulate and thoughtful.
Are we communicating our willingness to relinquish education time to a laptop? Do students believe that we opt for computers because they are more competent or simply easier for the educators? Or do they prefer to be online because it minimizes interaction with the teacher and other students?
It was personally very satisfying to see what one of my students did when he was relieved of his laptop due to inappropriate access. He thought for a moment and began to draw some very creative art that he delivered to me as a gift. The true gift was my opportunity to observe his extraordinary talent and the suggestion that he could capitalize on that strength.
Maybe I’ll ask a group of students in order to secure multiple opinions. Another alternative is to create a brief (anonymous) set of questions. Or maybe I’ll log into one of the educational sites and evaluate it for myself. No matter what path I take, I’ll continue to communicate to my students that I am fully committed to their education. Shalom.