On “Teacher Discretion”

Many schools are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) for students.  Simply put, students are able to bring in their own laptops, iPads, phones, etc., into their classrooms.

Oftentimes though, this based on “teacher discretion”.  If the teacher is not comfortable with students bringing in devices, they will have to leave them out of the classroom or they will have those little “cell phone hotels”, where students can place the phone into a sleeve pocket when they walk into a classroom.

So let’s talk about “teacher discretion”…Would we be okay with the idea that a teacher is in a classroom where the school is BYOD, and we forced them to use the device, and “teacher discretion” wouldn’t allow students to use pen and paper?  I am not sure that this would be a positive phone call from a parent to a school.  Forcing students to NOT use pen and paper is also not helpful.

What people might assume right away is that this is questioning teacher autonomy, which it isn’t.  What I want people to focus on is are we making decisions based on what we are comfortable with, and is that trumping what a student needs?  The notion of “teacher discretion” should not be based on a device, but focused on how these devices can make a positive impact on students, and not making standardized assumptions on what technology is able to do for students. Personally I know that I would feel lost in my learning if I did not have access to my laptop and phone.  This is not because I would use it all  of the time, but that I would have access all of the time.

Technology should personalize, not standardize. We need to focus on students as individuals and what each one needs to be successful in their own learning.   Being fair is ensuring that all students get what they need to be successful; this is what “teacher discretion” should be based on.  We need to move backwards from there.


Source: George Couros

One Comment

  1. John said:

    The difference between a pen, pencil, or paper and a mobile device is the temptation to text friends, surf the internet, and even go to inappropriate websites on a mobile network connection.

    Sure, you can doddle with a pencil and paper, but distraction is much greater with a cell phone.

    I can say that for me, it is not a comfort level (I have an extensive background in tech, and am usually a “first adopter”.) , as much a a desire to eliminate dustractions from the classroom.

    I prefer to use school issued tablets and computers, which I can monitor and used software to control when the students can use.

    Having said that, if I did not have enough school issued devices, I would definitely allow use of personal devices. I would just need to be more observant of how they are being used.

    October 30, 2016

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