DEVICES; ONLY DISTRACTION?
Recently I sat down with a student of mine. She finds the subject I teach incredibly difficult, so we decided that I would talk her through the elements she had to study. The booklet they're using to study is available online, but we have it on paper, too. I asked her which one she preferred to take a look at: "The hard copy please, on my tablet I get distracted too easily."
This response is not uncommon and I see it in everyday practice, too. Students become more and more attached to their digital devices, and can't let any notification go unnoticed. Whenever I walk by my students as they're working on their devices, I see tons of notifications, which they are supposed ignore. Apps such as Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp, and other frequently used social media interrupt their learning.
From a biological point of view, the students' responses are incredibly logical. Firstly, their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed up until the age of 25. This causes teenagers to respond to stimuli without thinking of the consequences, and to live in the moment, disregarding long-term effects. Apart from that, a certain addiction is present, as notifications often cause the secretion of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine. Lastly, a desire to belong is very strong in teens, as they are in their most insecure part of their lives.
Now, as you may know, I think ICT is a great tool to improve education. This, however, requires students to focus on learning instead of games, social media, or other apps. Do you want to make learning at your school digital, but also efficient and effective? Consider the following rules:
Of course these rules are harder to enforce when your school has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. Still it can be very beneficial to students to prohibit certain apps. Not because they necessarily want to, but because they already told you that they need it.
I'm still kind of confused. Yesterday, I was at the HU Honours Festival. I was nominated to be the Honours Student of the Year of Hogeschool Utrecht (University of Applied Sciences Utrecht).
To begin with, I had a great evening! Tons of people were interested in all the wonderful projects that my fellow students and I had created. Every time after pitching my own project, I tried to listen in on some other pitches. There were so many great ideas and I was truly impressed by the amazing people around me who managed to create something valuable by using their talents and chasing their dreams.
My project is Today's Teaching Tools, which I have been doing for a year now. I publish blogs, gather information, teach workshops, and answer many emails in order to make education a bit more ICT-proof. I do all this because I want every student to be seen and have fun in learning. Through ICT, lots of opinions, answers, and feedback can be generated, which oftentimes leads to happier students and teachers!
Now, I would be a hypocrite if I said my lessons are perfect, that I always manage to do what I just described. I don't always get to reach that student that needs it the most, or I don't get to help another one who is desperately asking for attention in the wrong way. Sometimes my lesson plans turn out to be rubbish, and sometimes we're just having too much fun, so that we forget to learn what's on the schedule. But I really hope that what I do helps other teachers, so that all of us can reach out to every student collectively. If I have been able to change only one life for the better, all the time, money, and effort invested, are worth it.
Back to yesterday... After an evening full of excitement, amazing offers, and lovely people around, the jury chose me to be the Honours Student of the Year. This isn't only a very honourable (Ha! You get it? Honours..?) title, but it also comes with a prize to invest in my project. Although I'm full of disbelief, I couldn't be happier!
I need to say special thanks to all the people who've helped me throughout this project. I won't mention any names, but I'm fully confident that you know I appreciate your support if you're reading this. I definitely couldn't have done this on my own!
For speakers of Dutch: See the link below!
Irene van der Spoel beste honoursstudent van de HU - An infographic by the team at Irene van der Spoel, vierdejaars lerarenopleiding Engels en Biologie, is verkozen tot Beste Honoursstudent van de HU. Dat gebeurde gisteren tijdens het eerste HU-brede Honoursfestival aan de Padualaan 101.