I have been interviewed before as a football coach where they took sound bytes and video clips for the local news, but I have never been on a live radio show. Well, this week I have been asked to be on a local, live radio show where they will be discussing three themes regarding the digital age. In order to get my thoughts rolling, I wanted to create this blog post around those themes.
The first theme is what I believe the school’s role is in teaching appropriate technology and media use? I believe the school’s role should be what it always has been. Technology didn’t and should not have changed what is appropriate and what is not. When students have written papers before the digital age, we had them do research, find information about their topic, put their findings in their own words, and cite or give credit for any quotations and resources they used. A works cited page has always been a part of any type of formal writing assignment or research paper. The same is still expected today. Just like teaching students how to cite sources, schools are responsible for teaching students how to find photos that are not copyrighted, how to cite sources and quotes from the web, how to determine what websites are credible resources, how to stay safe online, and how to keep their digital footprints clean.
The second theme is how should schools deal with the issue of texting and technology distraction in the classroom? Again, these issues deal with behaviors that have always existed. Technology did not change these behaviors; it only changed the method in which they are carried out. For example, before the digital age, students in my day wrote and passed notes. Instead of writing these notes with pencil and paper, the message is now a text. How did schools deal with note writing before? I would say that whatever the consequence was for the note writing crime should be the same for texting.
As far as technology itself being a distraction, well I believe that before the digital age, students were distracted. I taught for 18 years before becoming an eLearning Coach without much technology in my room and students still found ways to be distracted from the content that I was teaching. A student being distracted in the classroom is not a new concept that has transpired because of technology. So, I go back to, what did we do with students that were distracted before we put netbooks in their hands? Whatever the punishment was for breaking that rule, it should then be the same for distractions with technology. I would also like to say, that I have observed many classrooms as an eLearning coach. The teachers that utilize the technology and expect the students to use it on a daily basis have fewer distraction problems than those teachers that only use it once in a while.
The third theme is what should the role of parents be with the new technology? Well, as a parent of a freshman and a fifth grader myself, it has definitely helped me to step up to the plate and be the parent I should be with or without the technology. My daughters are using the Internet and social media multiple times throughout the evenings. I want to know their passwords for social media, and I also ask them to use the tablet and laptop in our common room where my wife and I can spot check them once in a while. I would do this if they were playing outside. When they were younger I would stand out with them as they played to be sure they didn’t wander out into the street. Now that they are older, it is the same principle. I am just making sure they don’t wander into the digital street where they could get hurt. I don’t see technology as being a negative thing. It has kept me on my toes and keeps my interest level in my children up, which is where it should be in the first place. Don’t ever let your children go behind closed doors for hours at a time and let them get online. It is not a matter of trust; it is a matter of being a parent and being responsible. Your children will realize that you care about them and you are interested in what they are doing even if they do not act like it at the time.
Here is my bottom line statement. Technology has not changed students' behaviors; it has only changed the method in which they carry out the behaviors. The things that are happening are no different than before the digital world if you really examine it.