The Distraction Myth of Learning with Technology

The Distraction MythIn facilitating the integration of technology tools within classrooms, I’ve heard teachers complain that devices can be distracting. This was also one of the fears that Lisa Nielsen (@innovativeEdu) addressed in a recent blog post – Confronting Fears – #BYOD for Students. The idea that technology itself is a distraction to students is a myth. It is perpetuated by educators who believe that banning technology will keep students more focused on the learning happening within the classroom. Technology, however, does have the potential to be a distraction for several reasons:

  • Students have developed their own norms for how technology should be used, and responsible use isn’t nurtured within classrooms.
  • The use of technology is often teacher-directed when it is utilized so students have few choices about the process or product.
  • There is an assumption that compliance with direct instruction means that students are engaged and focused.
  • Technology use is sometimes perceived as an extra add-on to traditional instruction instead of integral to the learning process.
  • Teacher lectures, direct instruction, and independent work with worksheets are regularly used as a means of behavior management to keep students quiet and pacified, and technology use encourages interaction.

Here are some strategies for addressing the issues listed above.

  1. Teachers and students should collaboratively develop expectations and guidelines for the responsible use of technology tools. These procedures should be posted and continually communicated and practiced. Remember that students will sometimes make mistakes with technology, and they should be consistently redirected, as necessary, with how to use technology responsibly.
  2. Students generally know how to use to technology, or they are generally able to quickly adapt to its use. However, they don’t usually know how to learn with technology. This is something that teachers can facilitate by utilizing the expertise of the students in the classroom to help each other. Teachers can also make assignments more open-ended so that students have opportunities to make choices in both process and product.
  3. Students can be distracted by many things within a classroom, even where technology tools are underutilized or banned. Many students have learned to play the “game” of school. They can look at a teacher and pretend to be focused and learning even though there thoughts are elsewhere. Teachers can create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and critical thinking in learning activities. In dynamic, active classrooms, there is a greater opportunity for effective technology use to support digital age skills.
  4. Technology by itself isn’t always engaging. Teachers have to utilize a variety of instructional strategies and digital content to engage student learning. With the effective integration of technology tools, teachers are able to personalize learning, flip the classroom, provide differentiated learning, and work with small groups and individuals – knowing that the students can utilize technology to access learning resources.
  5. Teachers have to model the desire to learn by learning alongside students new ways to utilize technology and discover new facets of a topic. With technology tools, students are readily able to access information, so there is no need for a teacher or a textbook to be the sole source of content. This can be intimidating for teachers who often perceive that their role is to disseminate everything they know about a subject.

By developing a positive learning community within a classroom, a teacher can take the initial steps necessary to begin integrating technology tools and resources. With consistent perseverance and practice, soon these teachers can find new ways to transform learning experiences while dispelling the myth of distraction while learning with technology.

, , , , ,

  1. #1 by juandon on January 19, 2015 - 11:39 am

  2. #2 by Terry Friedlander on January 29, 2015 - 4:06 pm

    Good read on how to use technology effectively in the classroom. Good teachers and innovative technology cut deep into eliminating student distraction. Write and learn with PicLits. Ten minutes, three times week, and watch the results and literacy improvement. thanks Rob.

  3. #3 by Jill Hobson on March 2, 2015 - 4:36 pm

    I am loving your illustrations! 🙂

  4. #4 by Cynthia Cornwell on April 2, 2015 - 5:05 pm

    Dr. Clark i would like permission to link to this and quote it in my blog post at SavvyTRT.

  5. #6 by Wendy Chambers on May 7, 2015 - 9:09 pm

    Tim, may I have your permission to present your cartoon/illustration during my presentation at a conference in June (with appropriate referencing)?

    • #7 by BYOT Network on May 8, 2015 - 12:25 pm

      Sure, Wendy, and I appreciate your asking too!

      • #8 by Wendy on May 9, 2015 - 11:46 pm

        Many thanks, Tim!

  1. The Distraction Myth of Learning with Technolog...
  2. Personal Technology In The Classroom: Navigating the Minefield Of Distraction | Extreme Networks
  3. Personal Technology In The Classroom: Navigating the Minefield Of Distraction | Extreme Networks
  4. Read the latest report from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2014 Student Survey. Create a post with your reaction of this report and detail how it will help you plan your instruction. | ed554adrienne
  5. Technology’s Role in all Aspects of Life. – Chris' experiences with the web

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: