I listened to a rather interesting conversation unfold in a staff meeting this afternoon. The question was put to the floor to come up with ways that we could deal with some of the issues surrounding the inappropriate use of laptops. Needless to say, I could hear in the distance, the use of that dreaded ‘c’ word: confiscation. My heart sank. Only last year we had decided that we would not confiscate laptops, and now, less than one year later, someone thought that confiscating laptops would be a great way of disciplining students. I know that I am not the only person who thinks confiscating laptops is an exercise in futility. Effectively you take away their tool for learning. Now I want to make it clear that the executive are not in favour of confiscating laptops, but needless to say, it was interesting to hear someone raise it as a real way of dealing with inappropriate use of laptops.
Inappropriate use of laptops – well we spent some time unpacking that statement. We talked about using a remote desktop program to monitor students’ use of laptops. It was really interesting that in our fabulous e-learning coordinator’s classroom, only one student tried to access Facebook, after learning that their computers could be accessed remotely. Hmm, if we were to take his class as a microcosm of the wider school community, then that’s very few students accessing Facebook. Could it be that they have seen the light? That they are so intrinsically motivated to learn that they can withstand the pressure to check their Facebook pages for a whole 50 mins? If only. I suspect that if they aren’t trying to access it on the school laptop, then they are probably accessing it from their mobile devices.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy teaching in a 1:1 environment. The core foundation of my teaching has not changed. I think teaching is relational. I always try to ground the content or knowledge in a context that is familiar to them. I involve them in contributing to the curriculum and to the learning strategies. There is much debate and discussion in my class, only this time I use Edmodo to model good questions and good answers. It has provided an avenue for students who were so afraid to contribute to class discussion, to contribute to an online forum.
My next move is to try to get popular websites like Facebook unblocked. Not because I would find it easier to check my Facebook status on the laptop as opposed to my iPhone. No. I want these sites unblocked, so that as an English teacher, I can critically analyse the Facebook site as a text. I want to create critically literate students with a broader world view than the status updates of a good many of their friends who rarely venture away from the reality t.v genre online. If only. I don’t think censorship of Facebook has done anything other than create fear and panic in parents as they feel powerless to stop it.
If only we could encourage critical thinking and critical literacy skills, by deconstructing Facebook, Form Spring and other sites, rather than admonishing these sites. Particularly when these sites have been used (amongst others) for good. Just think of Iran, Egypt and now Libya. Social networking and social media has brought the world closer together. How good would it be if our students showed a greater interest in the world events, made relevant by the immediacy of social networking sites. If only.