Friday, October 11, 2013

Lack of Trust? or Just a Misunderstanding?

How would you describe the phone you have in your pocket? Would you just call it a cell phone? Would you call it a computer? A gaming device? A glorified calendar? Address book? Organizer? Or a device that allows you to waste hours of your day? Whichever description best suits your device, one thing is apparent. It's not really the device that determines the description, but the user.

Thanks @gcouros for the inspiration!

Most of us possess an 'i' device of some sort, and are constantly checking it, playing with it, or using it for just about everything. When you think of it, it's actually quite amazing isn't it? We are able to connect with each other in so many ways now. To some this seems strange and foreign, and doesn't make sense. To others, this is just the way we do things now.

I was struck by this today during our professional development day. I am a constant Twitter'er and find the information and messages on it to be a great source for learning. As I was participating in my own professional development, I was on Twitter as well, learning from other teacher's in our board about what they were doing. I saw tweets from teachers and schools across the board sharing their own experiences, quotes, videos, thoughts, and just about everything else. If I were to attempt to find this information out another way, it would take me days to send out emails, phone calls, or carrier pigeons; and I still would never gather such interesting information.

I also take all my notes on my device. I find it very beneficial as I don't have to worry about carrying around another 'tool' to do so. I can organize them, tag them for future reference; and add not just text, but visuals, links, and anything else I feel would benefit my ideas. I'm able to organize and express my thoughts this way, without worry; and access them no matter where I am. To others this may look like texting or someone who is distracted, to those who use their device in the same way, it's just normal practice.

Our own students use their devices in much the same way. They own very powerful, portable computers and can use them to do just about anything. Many teachers would rather ban the devices from their classrooms, and tell their students to put them away while they learn. I always find this interesting, as such devices can (and should) actually aid their learning. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for them to be put away, and greater digital citizenship is needed by our students. During tests, while having group discussions, and a few other activities would all provide reason for students to put their devices away. However, this is quite different from banning them altogether or for a period of time. Many will say those who don't allow students to use their devices in the classroom, do not trust their students. I believe however, that it's not as much about a lack of trust, but a lack of information; and thus a misunderstanding about the ability students have with their devices.

My iPad and iPhone, have become my notebooks. Twitter has become my professional development tool and learning network. My PD is now controlled by me, where I am able to customize it to 'fit' me. I don't have to wait for learning, I go to learning. I follow interesting people, and share information from them on a regular basis. I have made a choice to learn from others, and not attempt to in isolation. I trust that others learn in the same way, and that students use their devices to engage and connect with others. It's their comfort zone - an environment where they are able to share, discuss, collaborate, and create. And isn't this what a classroom is all about?

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