During a recent Digital Age Learning conference, participants were asked to bring an artifact to to represent the completion of one of these sentences.
- I learn best when....
- My favorite new idea is...
- I know I understand something when....
- When I need help I...
Everyone was asked to reveal their artifact and find three people who were given questions different than themselves and discuss why they choose the artifact they did. I was very pleased with my choice and ready to open some eyes.
What happened next both surprised me and caused me to smirk.
Nearly every person had the same artifact. Sadly, though, like the teacher’s edition of a textbook, this artifact that many adults choose learning, understanding, getting help and new ideas, is off limits to students today.
The artifact was a cell phone.
Everyone excitedly shared how it helped them learn by providing them access to material, resources, learning networks, enabled them to capture ideas, get help, and achieve greater understanding in numerous ways.
Unfortunately, many schools are stuck in a culture where the teacher’s knowledge is power and their students can only access that knowledge via them. This artificial method of cutting students off and keeping them stuck in the past is both unjust and denies them what should be a basic right in schools: A student’s freedom to learn with the tools necessary for success in the world.
Administrators, teachers, parents, and students need to stand up, work to break the ban, and demand the right to learn with the tools their teachers know are necessary for optimal success in school and in life.
Check out Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning for more ideas about thinking outside the ban to harness the power of student-owned devices for learning including policies, contracts, management ideas, and research.
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