I was flying back from a conference the other day, and I noticed something very bizarre. As I waited for the plane to take off, I saw that the panel above me looked different than usual. Upon further inspection, I realized that the No Smoking sign had been replaced with this instruction: "Turn off Electronic Devices." It made me smile because I could see that I was on a newer plane -- and because I know there are teachers all over the country that wish they could have this sign blinking in their room at all times.
There are teachers out there that feel like their class will crash and burn if they allow students to use electronic devices in their room. That seems like a crazy exaggeration, but I have talked with more than a few teachers that want nothing to do with any form of technology in their classroom. It's time for teachers to stop being afraid of technology and start looking at the ways it can make the classroom experience more engaging for everyone involved.
Here are some suggestions for those that are willing to turn off the No Electronic Devices sign.
1) Start Small
Try and find a tool that is easy for you to use and fits well into your curriculum and lesson. You need to feel comfortable if you want your students to feel comfortable.
2) Practice Makes Perfect
Try the tool out for a while. "One and done" is no way to try anything, especially a piece of technology where repetition generally leads to greater understanding.
3) Ask Your Students
Your students are a great source of information on wonderful web tools and the technology that is already a big part of their lives. Allowing students to take ownership of integrating technology ideas into the classroom can be a great experience for everyone.
4) Reach Out
There are many great educators on Twitter and other social media platforms that have experience with using electronic devices in the classroom. See what they have done and see how it could work in your class.
There is a place and a time for electronic devices on a plane. As the captain of your classroom, it's time to consider turning off the sign and letting your passengers enjoy the flight.