It’s no longer just college aged students who are using personal technology in the classroom. At some schools, even elementary school aged children are wired. But especially with younger kids, it is important to consider the pros and cons before implementing a personal technology strategy in schools.
Aside from cost, which is always an important consideration but not one directly related to this conversation, there are many factors to consider when determining if personal technology should be allowed in the classroom. If it is mandatory (in other words, everyone has the same technology with the same software installed and/or blocked and the devices are owned by the school) it can certainly be easier for teachers to control the environment by having students login to educational platforms that use the technology as a way of engaging in the subject matter. Especially for younger students, research shows that if the technology is not directly engaging between the teacher and the user (student), it has a high likelihood of becoming more of a distraction than it does an educational tool.
An additional consideration surrounding technology is the fact that sometimes technology has glitches. When all students are using the same school-owned technology, teachers can be trained to troubleshoot common problems, so that disruptions to productivity are more limited. On the other hand, if students are encouraged to bring their own devices into the classroom setting, technology issues can be nearly impossible for a teacher to navigate on an individual basis. This is one of many reasons why more and more studies show that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are not appropriate for students below high school – and even then, it can present some significant challenges if it isn’t closely monitored.
What do you think about the use of portable personal technology in the classroom? Do you think it helps or hurts the students’ academic performance overall? Educational scholars seem to agree that personal technology definitely has benefits when used correctly, but isn’t without significant challenges – especially for younger students.