A few people have pointed and made reference to the following article:
Why I just asked my students to put their laptops away
I wanted to take the time to comment as this topic has been weighing heavily on my mind as a result of both teaching students with learning challenges and the emerging realisation that my own child will find most of his life intellectually challenging.
Firstly, I started teaching some 20 years ago, right on the cusp of the 1:1 Laptop movement in Australian Schools. I was fortunate enough to work at Methodist Ladies College for a few years and there I met several pioneers of 1:1 computing including Dr Gary Stager.
Secondly, I love technology! I am fortunate enough to live in an age were technology permeates every square inch of my life. I can leverage it for good (and evil) and the educational benefits are enormous.
So some of what the article talks about resinates with me personally. On my recent CSU Study Tour to Sydney I only took my notebook a pen into each observation. I knew that if I had my laptop and/or iPad with me, I would go off on excited little tangents and perhaps miss the real message that the presenters were trying to make. The tactile notes allowed me to focus my thoughts and add to them, highlight them, post note them without the risk of skipping out onto the internet to check something.
Does this make me any less of a learner or technology leader?
At a recent conference, two of my colleagues attended. One had a tablet device in front of them the other a notebook and pen. The traditional notebook person commented that the tablet user spend their time surfing the internet and they perceived them as not paying attention. The iPad user commented that the traditional notebook user didn't even have an iPad to check things on or participate and perceived them as being not interested in what was being spoken about.
Who is right?
Are students mature enough to say "I can't focus with my device in front of me, give me pen and paper?" or is this an outdated view of learning in a 21st Century? Are we skilling our students with the skills to make these decisions? Should we be?
There is increasing research appearing about how students can find it hard to focus in a multimedia environment. For example, reading on a single focus device is likely to result in a greater quality of recall.
There doesn't seem to be many long term studies being done in this area, but as educators what we are doing in our classrooms should be continually evaluated. So that we are meeting our learning goals. We shouldn't have to wait until the Naplan results are released to realise that our students can't concentrate within a paper based environment.