Students Are Ahead of the Game

Several years ago, cellphones started appearing en masse in schools and the immediate reaction was to have students put them away. Later, as cellphones developed into smartphones and students harnessed the power of texting, roaming data and social media, some schools continued to react in the same way, demanding students not use devices in class.

And now, here we are in a MOOC, with many of us finding success by accessing the exact same tools that were so recently shunned.

We now say that these tools allow us to stay connected – that BYOD (bring your own device) policies are cost-effective ways to maintain networked-learning in our schools, that smartphones can replace computer labs, that social media allows us as professionals to grow.

Students figured this stuff out years ago and we’re only jumping on the bandwagon now. In my school/district’s case, the sudden support has been clear with:

  • eLearning courses replacing in-school classroom courses
  • The appearance of school and board social media accounts
  • Trial runs of school wifi

And to be fair, I’m happy that we are finally taking advantage of these resources, even if the students are ahead of the game. They can probably teach us a thing or two about how to make the best use of connected learning opportunities.

That’s not to say that the move towards connected learning doesn’t raise any questions. I worry that eLearning may take away home-school opportunities, (especially in smaller schools like mine) or that funding to maintain connected learning opportunities won’t be sustained.

So how do we ensure that we approach connected learning and educational technology in a way that ensures its success? Maybe we should be asking the students for that answer, too.