Students: Distracted or Hooked to the Screen?

The discussion revolving around the use of mobile devices in the classroom is still strong. Some teachers have embraced the gadgets, feeling that they are powerful learning tools. Others, due to insecurity or strong beliefs argue that cell phones and tablets are a poor replacement for traditional teaching, just substituting what is already done well without them. For those teachers, the place of mobile devices in the classroom is in silent mode in the backpacks. There are others who say that students will be browsing through their social media in the devices and won´t focus on the task. I always wonder. Is it really so? Have they tried out mlearning in class, or is it just a perception, a feeling?

Every time I have proposed an mlearning activity in my English classes, be it with teenagers or adults, from simple web searches to a more elaborated creative process, what I felt was exactly the opposite. Students were immersed, engaged and on task. They were in that state of mind positive psychologist Csíkszentmihályi calls flow. Were they browsing their social media or going from one app to the other? Not really, because from the beginning I realized that if we design smart tasks, then students will be challenged to get to the end, mission successfully accomplished. They will want to show their final piece to the others. They will be information seekers, designers, writers, the creative heads in class. So, I´d say that I totally agree with blogger Tom Daccord, who has recently posted in Edudemic that “The best classroom management  is a good lesson.”

If your lesson is appealing and engaging with a special “touch”, the screen, who´d resist it?

Have you experienced the same feeling or are you still a little skeptical about screens in the hands of our students?

Carla Arena

Carla Arena is a social entrepreneur, educator by choice. She left a promising career in the public service to become an English teacher and got the chance to take roles she could have never imagined, such as site content manager at the Binational Center she worked for, Casa Thomas Jefferson. There, she was also the Supervisor of Educational Technology, and more recently Coordinator of Innovation and Technologies. Carla is a Google Innovator and educational technology consultant. Currently she innovates in her own business, AMPLIFICA (https://amplifica.org).

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