If you’ve followed this education blog for the past couple of years you would have accompanied on my journey through my qualifying exams. It was an extremely long and stressful process and one that I felt was very much behind the times and counterproductive (to be honest). One of my pet topics throughout my time posting here has been evaluative methods in the digital age. I’m certainly not a scientist by any means, and I haven’t conducted trials or quantified results into bar graphs, but I have been a teacher and a student during a time of great change (as I imagine most “times” usually are). This particular period of change involves technology, mobile devices, always on internet access, and a really healthy dose of information about “everything” available for free at all hours of the day via the web. To say that this change in landscape has not changed the teachers or learners (or both) would be a falsehood. Equally false, however, would be to claim that every outdated relic of the (mostly) bygone era of waiting for information has been updated and/or eradicated. Far from the truth.
One small example of what I view to be problematic comes from high schools. Most high schools I am aware of have a “no cell phone” policy during the school day. Either they can’t be used, or brought, or are sometimes even locked up during the day. Forgetting about all of the non-educational problems with this set up (such as during a disaster or emergency, etc.) there is an educational hit that separates students from all of that information available via the web. Many of these schools have an equally stringent “no laptop” policy in the classroom. The stated benefits are that students “pay attention” and don’t engage in non-educational activities like social networking or other perceived ills. Imagine a situation in which the teacher wasn’t horrified by a child’s ability to “find an answer” quickly, but instead could direct the discussion to a wider view of the gray areas and contested points with all of the students being — wait for it — interested in seeking knowledge about the subject. What if? More to come.