In 2019, our lives revolve around technology. Advancements like cellphones, powerful laptops, and high-speed internet have drastically altered the ways we learn. Our attention is often times shifted away from the matter at hand to the countless distractions technology offers. This is especially relevant in the classroom.
Upper School Math Teacher Mr.Sergeant is a firm believer in removing cell phones from the classroom. “In a classroom setting, continually checking your phone leads to a lack of attention to the material being taught,” said Sergeant. This is something that almost everyone does at some point. Checking the time turns into scrolling through twitter or instagram, but in the classroom this can mean being completely disengaged from the class. Director of Digital Media Mrs.Reid agrees. “I think it’s really hard to be totally present in a task or moment when we have our phone in our pocket” said.Reid. That’s why many teachers make students place their phones in a box or in hanging sleeves, a new policy in the Upper School which was previously reported on by Inkwell author Jyair Thomas.
History Department Head Mr.Osborn has a different approach to cellphones in the classroom. Osborn only makes his freshmen put their phones away before class, while the juniors and seniors he teaches are allowed to keep theirs. “I trust my older guys that we have a good enough relationship that they understand that our time is our time,” said Osborn. He finds that this system works, and that there are rarely people on their phones.
Though many people see technological advancements as causing the end of social interaction and the death of real knowledge, technology, especially the internet, also offers students and educators more options in the classroom. But these options must be utilized in interesting ways. “Using technology in the classroom has to be really intentional and creative, otherwise it just becomes part of the digital white noise we’ve grown accustomed to in our daily lives,” said Mrs. Reid. This balance is difficult for both students and educators to perfect. Having a computer and a phone is necessary at school and, for the most part, in life, but relying on these objects too much can be distracting and detrimental. In a joint study done by The University of Alabama, The University of Arkansas, and the Buros Center for Testing two groups of people were given a lecture. One group were allowed to keep their phones during the lecture, while the other group put them away. The group with their phones were sent distracting texts during the later half of the lecture, then both groups were quizzed on the information they just learned. “Distracted participants performed worse on the test for the same material than those who were not distracted.” said the study.
The internet, a modern Library of Alexandria, holds all of humankind’s knowledge which can be accessed almost instantly at any time, anywhere. Though cluttered with hours of cat videos, flash games, advertisements, and utter nonsense, the internet is the ultimate educational tool. Mr. Sergeant, while aware of the dangers, also recognizes the benefits. “Having the ability to access resources on the internet during class, use online programs at a moments notice, and project media allows for a varied approach to instruction,” he said.
Photo via NBC News