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Having taught at two schools now that require student laptop use, I have given much thought to the management of laptop usage. In essence we have given our students a tool for endless distraction, a fun toy, and then we ask them to ignore all the games and other entertainment while they write an essay. We are fighting an uphill battle in many ways. Think about the average staff meeting where teachers have their laptops. How many of them are really taking notes rather than playing on Facebook or chatting to someone across the room? Perhaps I fear what my students are up to on their laptops during class as I am one of the biggest offenders. I can blame my ADD all I want, but really it’s that I have limited self-control. How can I ask my grade 8s to have more control than I do?
My grade 8s and their endless Mac products
But I do. I walk around my room demanding Facebook and other chat sites be turned off. In Yangon it’s all in the name of bandwidth, but let’s face it, I just want them to get to work. The words “lids down” consistently comes out of my mouth and I spend time on my teacher Facebook account checking out who is online. It’s a delicate dance. Without the internet or computer access within my room, research would be impossible. We simply lack the resources. So the uphill distraction battle I will fight!
I find that a few classroom guidelines beyond the school’s limited AUP has helped.
1. Use of any chat program in class results in the loss of online privileges for the rest of the period.
2. Laptops are only used when necessary. We have dictionaries.
3. A word processing program is essential. Work handed in using Text editor is not accepted.
4. Limit the number of screens that you have open. Students do notice the extreme different when all of them are on at the same time and all have sites open that constantly refresh.
5. Playing games is never ok. This behavior may result in being plugged into the projector for future online sessions.
In the end, like any educational tool, we must teach our students to use it
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appropriately and keep distractions to a minimum. Staying focused is key to effective technology use.
Now, I should probably close all my open tabs and stop chatting with my four friends on Skype.