Wasted Time Has Consequences

I’ve been writing a document for US Faculty about managing the increasing numbers of family-owned laptops brought to school. It’s funny that my recommendations always become remarkably basic:

1. The same classroom management techniques we’ve always used in the classroom work equally well with laptops in the classroom.
2. It is typically very easy to tell from a student’s expression and eyes if something more interesting than note taking is happening on screen.
3. Other students craning their necks to see a screen is another subtle giveaway.
4. In the end, nearly all students will realize that computers can be “time sinks” that have to be used carefully at school.
5. Even MS students have asked for more limits or to have software removed, because they know they are wasting time.
6. Nearly all students use computers at home for recreation, as do their parents, but it isn’t difficult to emphasize that the school day is “working time” and needs to be academically focused.

Now, not every student learns to “self-limit,” but at academically rigorous schools the majority of students are ready to work hard, and not let distractions get in the way. We can always present stand-out examples of terrible technology use, but in the main it doesn’t happen if the culture of the school is truly focused on engaging academic work.

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