George Lucas Educational Foundation
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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.

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Aubrey's picture

We feel the same way. They have the tech. Show them how to use it! As long as you are prepared to be flexible the results will be incredible. Students interact, critically think and respond to technology. As a result, it becomes our responsibility, as educators, to employ it to create critical thinking. All of our posts last week were about cell phones in the classroom and how to use QR codes to extend classroom learning and concepts. Educators have to be prepared to jump in!


FNMSPrincipal's picture
Middle School Principal in LAUSD

How about remaining seated with seatbelt on? The classroom is not an airplane.

James McLain's picture
James McLain
I produce free Algebra tutorials on YouTube, and I sell ed. Tech.

They save time, and are so expandable.

Peter Holmboe's picture
Peter Holmboe
Language-teacher from Denmark, working with tech in a 1:1-MacBook-School.

I like your analogy - good idea!
But... I am missing the safety instructions and an emergency exit :-)

In my opinion the plan lacks a sted 5 or 6.
What should the teacher do if the new tech in class won't behave? To whom should the teacher talk and where should he/she direct frustrations?

Thanks for some good insights!


Ms.Garcia's picture
High School English Teacher from Navajo Nation

I am supportive of using the internet, digital cameras, cell phones and other forms of technology in my classroom but I also have my justifications clearly spelled out in my lesson plans. This helped me a lot in the beginning when I had to convince my principal or concerned parents that I wasn't just creating chaos. I think the bigger problem for me is the resources that aren't available. Many of my students do not own a cellphone or a computer and the school can barely keep a functioning computer lab open for the entire school. I want my students to interact more with technology and own the process rather than passively read a powerpoint presentation. Where could I find information on getting these resources?

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