The Tool is Not the Distraction

The other evening I was in a meeting and I took out my iphone to take notes on the conversation. Most of the time I do not carry around a pen and paper, but I always have my phone with me so that is what I use. As the meeting went on the person stopped in the middle of the conversation and said, “I’m sorry, but can you put that away, it’s distracting for you to be doing that while we are talking.” I responded that I was taking notes and showed my screen and got an immediate and repeated apology. Now, I had said at the beginning of the chat that I was going to take notes, but this person must not have heard me.

This to me, is the epitome of an issue, and that issue is that technology is often seen as a distraction, rather than a learning tool and some people fear this tool for all the wrong reasons.

I am certain that had I been using pen and paper, our conversation would have proceeded without the interruption and reprimand. I am certain that I would not have been asked to put away my pen and paper so I could concentrate on our conversation. Yet teachers often ask students to put away these technological learning tools rather than embrace them and use them for what they are worth.

These are the teachers who fear the tool; who do not want to compete with the tool; who want to be the focus of attention. These are the teachers we need to seek out and mentor and show the benefits of using technology to enhance their teaching and the students’ learning. These are the teachers who need to use the tools.

Students have long found ways to be distracted in class– especially if they are bored, tired or hungry. They have passed notes to each other, doodled, daydreamed by looking out the window, and have even dozed off. The tool is not the distraction; it is the lack of engagement and ownership of the learning (in my opinion).

photo credit: Carol VanHook via photopin cc