First things first: I love technology. I was the first one with a Smart board in my classroom. I used it immediately and still use it to this day. I am the only teacher with 1:1 iPads in my classroom, and students use them in a variety of ways. They receive, complete, and turn in assignments on Edmodo. They create presentations with Flow Board. I post grammar exercises on the Smart board, they complete them on Socrative, and then I give them feedback. They read pdfs and annotate them. My students use their iPads in almost every class period I teach.
We need to engage and excite students, and I believe that technology will be part of that solution. That being said, I believe that ultimately, we are educators of human beings, not technology consumers. If we are having a class discussion, it is too much of a distractions to have the devices out. It can cause students to disengage and lose interest in the class community. In addition, I feel that note-taking is best done in say, a notebook. I realize that countless teachers have used Evernote and Notability to help students take notes, but I have found that between words, they somehow find their way onto Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, or any other non-educational application. If they really need their notes on a screen, they are welcome to photograph their notebook later and save it to their Edmodo backpack.
Many teachers get around this by delivering lectures in the back of the room with an outline in the front of the room. That way, they can look at the iPads to make sure students are staying on-task. I’m sure it works for them, but when I talk to them, I want eyes on me. I can get a sense of their engagement levels, and I can switch gears or break up the lecture if need be. For me, the plain ole’ paper notebook works best.
This brings up an idea that will be crucial as schools attempt to modernize and keep up with the mobile revolution. It will be important for all of us to realize that we are called to be teachers who use tools at our disposal to increase student engagement and learning. iPads, Chromebooks, and other devices are tools. They are not the ultimate goal. Teachers and students are first and foremost human beings, and human beings need relationships. These relationships must sometimes come before technology.