My experience with students’ use of technology has been frustrating here in China.
I can’t sugarcoat it.
Having been in China for the last 6 school years, I’ve experienced and witnessed tech nightmares. I feel, as though, I’ve spent a third of my time spent in China watching the wheels spin, waiting for pages to load. It comes with working in a rapidly developing country, I suppose.
For example, I designed an interactive book display with QR codes a couple years ago. Between the low broadband and the great firewall of China, I had a difficult time not losing my mind.
I don’t want this post to come off, as being negative… Is it too late?
Rather than look at my experiences as failed attempts at trying to augment or redefine learning, I’ll say this: it’s been a growth experience. Be prepared with a backup plan, and be patient, always.
At my previous school we had developed a BYOD policy, and things were starting to get better, as far as speed and broadband. I remember inspiring students to share their book reviews with each other and offer recommendations, using our library management system
In hindsight, it was actually pretty cool. Students recommended books to each other, and I think they really enjoyed connecting with each other in that context. However, I couldn’t help but notice how limited the platform was. Sometimes kids would want to reply to certain comments, and it wasn’t possible. Eventually, they got tired of not being able to continue the conversation. I haven’t used Follett’s Destiny in awhile – it may have been upgraded so that students recommendations and reviews are more apt for continuous dialogue.
Having taken this course, though, I learned not to let that platform hinder progress. Instead of using Follett Destiny, this time we tried wordpress (the software and it’s housed on our server at school, alleviating the winding wheel issue) And we’re calling it interactive book reports. Kids are writing book reviews, and their friends are commenting. I’m thinking about extending this for my course 5 project. Stay tuned.
Another experience this year: I collaborated with a teacher on students writing their own stories. We used office 365. Thankfully, my colleague was super patient. The kids were, too. All the kids wrote their stories out, using pen and paper. BUT, to officially publish, everybody had to eventually type their stories on word. You’d think this would be easy, but they were using Word in the cloud with their school accounts. It seemed like we wasted a great deal of time looking at the wheel — for simple edits and saving.
One thing I have noticed from teachers who have been teaching a long time, for better or worse, don’t seem to use technology all that much in their teaching. I see most of the best work being done by students and teachers in the absence of technology — not in its presence. Outside of managebac and office, it doesn’t work for most because of the country we’re living. I think this has to do with the firewall, more than anything. I should also mention that some teachers do claim (I just haven’t seen it from the library) that they use office notebook successfully as a platform to exhange and deliver with students.
In looking at Larry Rosen’s Tech Breaks, I don’t see it being all that necessary with our students. I certainly see its place and value, but I see kids checking in on their phones during lunch, between classes, and in the halls. Isn’t that enough? It could be that I’m too far removed being in the library. The library is usually the place where students do come to have their tech breaks. Last year students would often come to our library to check in on Instagram or gaming platform.
Really, libraries can be the necessary place for tech breaks for students. A warm, welcoming environment, allowing for some along time with their device and social media. Students seem to really enjoy that.
Within the classroom, I’m not sure I’d be ready to experiment until I knew more about my students. It might even be a good idea to ask them what they think about the idea. Maybe they would want a few minutes to check in.
I take back what I wrote earlier, asking the question “is it really necessary for tech breaks?”
After having read the articles and watched this video above.
Science doesn’t lie. If students are anxious after 15 minutes, having not checked in, maybe results will be better, if given a tech break. This is something I will investigate further.
Focus and attend – calm the brain That’s the point of a tech break. Give them one minute. Check back in 15 minutes. Larry Rosen stresses giving our brains practice. I do think it would be a good idea for students to practice this idea of taking a break with tech and then focusing on class work, whatever that might be.
I know from own experience, that I do have to acknowledge what distracts me and why. I’m 34, just figuring out how to best practice tech use with my phone and computer. I practice shutting everything down. I try to mind when I check in on social media. And, I especially look to when I should not check in on my phone. If I’m stressed and anxious and go to my phone for relief, I practice saying to myself “There aren’t going to be any answers to my problem on this thing”