Recently I heard a senior administrator talk about the perception of students towards tablet as toys. Though I did not like the comment, I could not argue it. All one needs to do to confirm his theory, after all, is to walk into a mall, restaurant, airport, or waiting-room of any type to see kids’ hands on small/large screens either consuming content or engaged in a game.
In thinking of, and being frustrated at, the shortage of research of technology in the classroom, I’ve come to realize that there is one aspect of technology that has been given little attention; modeling behavior. I agree that children see the use of a table/smartphone mostly as an entertainment device, one to consume content rather than to make content. And if we think about it more deeply, maybe we can agree that that perception has been handed to students from adults, pun intended 🙂
I have seen how an inexperienced leader took a hands on approach in encouraging teachers to use tablets in a constructive way by modeling, even though she had little training and experience in what she was doing. She got up to speak to teachers with tablet in hand, and she showed how it was a powerful tool for teaching. Over time, this had an impact on how the device was used by teachers.
As parents/teachers, how adults approach technology is how children approach technology. If we are afraid, are not interested, and only use the most basic and superficial features, children will follow suit. If adults take an interest and use a device for more than watching movies or playing video games, I am confident children will do the same. This is the best teaching tool there is; modeling behavior.
I encourage you to take the time to discover ways to model productive and interesting ways of using technology in the classroom. It would make the argument that “tablets are only toys” change to “children use digital tools as adults model how to use those tools.”