The Digital Device

By Dennis Adams

Some problems surrounding the use of technology will always annoy us because many of the most important dilemmas are not completely solvable. That is why they are important.

Mobile technologies are so pervasive today that we scarcely notice when they are used for information retrieval, communication, entertainment, and distraction at school. Much has been written about how these devices can stimulate learning, but little has been said about how efficiently they can interrupt learning as well.

Educators can’t ignore the fact that mobile computing devices will generate more issues for schools in the future. Cell phones, BlackBerries, iPods, mobile computers, and their ilk have become almost as common at school as backpacks and pencils.

For school districts, each technological advance brings added possibilities and problems. Mobile tools can increase student motivation and even increase engagement in learning activities, but the ubiquity and ease of electronic connections can indirectly promote cheating, cyber bullying, and other bad habits.

The rapid development of some of today’s mobile devices is as surprising as anything that has happened in the last two decades of the 20th century. This has led to a lot of uncertainty about whether technology helps or gets in the way of learning. The solution: Experiment with different approaches and set standards for using mobile devices at school.

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