As someone who has experience teaching in a school with one to one devices, I am frequently asked about the pros and cons of using digital devices in the classroom. Most commonly; are they a distraction? How do they benefit the students? Are they really enhancing the teaching and learning?
To start, everything in the classroom can be a distraction for students if they are not engaged in a lesson. I have first hand experience of students becoming distracted without any source of technology being used. As teachers, we are on high alert to keep students on task and focussed. This doesn’t change with the introduction of one to one devices. A big part of our job will always be keeping students motivated, no matter how much technology is involved.
I have personally experienced students showing more interest in subjects when technology is used versus when it is not, especially for students with additional needs.
Digital Skills for the Future
When asked does it really benefit students, I think that everyone forgets to focus on one big factor; the digital literacy you are expected to have when entering third level education or the working world.
How can we expect students to gain the skills needed to thrive in a very digital world, if we are not facilitating the use of digital technology on a daily basis throughout their second level education?
Whether a students is going to continue to third level or not, we live in a time where being efficient in using technology is almost as important as reading and writing. Before utilising many of the fantastic teaching and learning digitals tools, students are already at an advantage by just being able to confidently complete the basics such as; typing, saving documents, sending emails, uploading documents, creating and organising folders, digitally handing in assignments, meeting online deadlines and effectively searching the internet.
Are we replacing traditional methods?
As educators, we are worried that the introduction of one to one devices will completely replace the tradition of copies, books & pens. But much like students in college or university it works perfectly beside the traditional methods. How much a device is utilised can depend on the teacher, the students and the subject. There is no one size fits all and a device doesn’t have to replace all the other hands on ways students learn, it can be used alongside them.
Students having autonomy of their learning
Students having their own device also allows them to have autonomy of their learning. Giving the students the choice of how they can complete tasks in class can be a great source of differentiation and also keeps students interested and focussed. Devices give them an opportunity to experience another way of learning which may suit their learning needs.
One to one devices allow teachers and students to bring the outside world into the classroom, the resources that can be used for teaching & learning are limitless. Answering the question of how they enhance teaching and learning with one specific selling point is difficult, as the reasons are endless. Every teacher has to figure out how much they want to use them in their lessons and what they want to use them for, the same as using the school books. Some teachers like to use them a lot and some not at all.
My experience of working with one to one devices over the past four years has been rewarding and beneficial for both my teaching and my students learning. I think it is important to share the importance of utilising technology on a daily basis so that students can gain essential skills for the future.