Back in the dark ages, when I was in school, I was responsible to purchase my own notebooks, to keep personal notes for each subject and buy an assignment notebook, and to record assignments. In still have my “Chandler’s” notebook from my sophomore year of High School. NEVER in all my years of junior high, middle school, or college did any teacher ask to view my personal notes, view my assignment notebook or concerned what I did with the any notebook. Yes, I used many a sheet to compose notes to my friends. I was quite a note-passer. (Not a big surprise to those who know me) I had the science of passing notes down pat, as did the rest of my friends. If a note was taken away, the teacher either tore up the note or in the case of Mr. Shepard, (my eighth grade Social Studies teacher) he read the note out loud, then destroyed it; so I rarely passed notes in his class. Teachers did not view our notebooks as problem in class. They knew we had to use them to take notes, study, and review. The nuisance of note passing was just part of the territory. If I doodled on my notebook, it was my notebook and it was not taken away. The thought was I didn’t get the material written down, the consequence would be a lower grade on the test. My teachers were not concerned that if I didn’t pay 100% attention. It was all about the test and the homework I turned in.
Jump ahead to the digital age. Now in the digital age, where schools issue laptops and even paper planners, they OWN the tool, not the students. This dramatic shift has created many jobs for additional IT people, by “keeping” track of everything the student does and every key stroke. The backing up of the data, the monitoring of the data, has created a nightmare and I feel has impeded learning. The focusing on catching students doing something wrong is more important than letting the students create and teach them to be responsible for their learning.
Teachers today want 100% of their students paying attention to them, 100% of the time. This is completely unrealistic. Look at those same teachers at a teacher’s meeting or conference. They are checking their email, updating homework, and social networking, while the meeting/conference is being held. But, back in the classroom, the moment a student drifts away, draws something, or even has a different assignment up on their device – ZAP! off the computer! ZAP! computer taken away. The answer is “you can use paper.” I have witnessed this over and over. It is time the students wise up and pony up to purchase their own devices, to own digital notebooks and calendars. It is time for the students take responsibility of their learning.
Of course, you will say “not everyone can afford this.” But with the lines blurring between school and personal use, cost of net books, iPads, and other devices, the cost is coming down. The students would own the data and the devices, it wouldn’t be taken away because they downloaded a program or added a personal item on the school’s device. The schools would get out of the business of purchasing the tools, monitoring the data, and downloading the software. Yes, IT departments might be gone. The downside would be not all the students would have the same software or hardware. The teachers would focus of the learning, not using a specific program, but end product would be up to the student, using innovation and creativity.
This is a scary thought for administrators and teachers. But think back to the dark ages, teachers didn’t take away those notebooks because a note was written, they were interested in making sure the student had access to their notes and data. They didn’t give them a chalkboard to take home with all the notes on it or did they?