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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Students Likes/Dislikes about School /Cell Phones/BYOD

After attending ISTE 2012 I decided I wanted to get a group of former students together and use some of tech tools I am planning on using in my class. I hadn't used some of them before with a group of students and wanted to see what would happen when I did. I had another motive as well: I wanted them to freely express how they felt about school/class. It was a win-win for me; I got to test out some great new tech tools and received great feedback from students. BTW, the way I got former students in during the summer was a promise of lunch. Told admin what I was doing and they took care of lunch. This post will focus on the feedback from students as I believe it is beneficial to everyone.

Here are some responses to what students like/dislike about school/class:

Student A "I like to learn interesting facts and history stuff. I like learning to do new things on the computer and learning how to use new programs. I don’t like when the class has to just sit there and be silent and read.
Good lessons have interaction with all the students AND the teacher. I like when you learn about new things and new programs.

Bad lessons are like when ****** makes us sit and take notes while she flies through a presentation. Or when she makes us read a ton of pages and write stuff about it. I don’t know about you, but I find that boring and not useful. I don’t learn anything when I’m bored."

Student B "I don't like sitting and doing nothing, like hearing a lecture. I get bored really easy and can fall asleep really easy when I'm not doing anything. Sometimes taking notes can keep me awake but I don't really like taking notes. I like fun lessons where we act things out or do things hands on. I don’t really love making presentations. I also don’t like writing essays because they are boring and stupid to do.

I think a bad lesson is where all you do is sit and take notes.(like in ****** class she would have a powerpoint and go really fast and write a lot...I didn't like it.)"

Student C "I like to interact with my peers, while also pushing myself to learn new things, learning is something I really really enjoy. Especially when I feel someday I will be able to draw from the things I’ve learned and use them in a non-academic setting. I don’t really like essays, but unfortunately for me, Essays are part of the standardized-education system, and I’m not exempt from the timed sessions of long-dry pages of info, that sometimes don’t serve justice to those trying to show their knowledge and get into college."

Student D "I like when we use different activities to learn about new places! I like to use different features on the computer to create presentations and other things. I don't like when teachers just sit there and lecture us about boring stuff that’s hard to understand.
I like lessons when you have a type of activity to go with it, it helps to understand what we are learning about.
I don’t like the lessons where the teacher makes you read the text book cover to cover instead of the teacher explaining it themselves."

Student E "A good lesson is one that doesn’t always have to be finished. In physics we almost never finished a lesson because we always went deeper into a concept that the teacher didn’t intend on teaching. A bad lesson is one where all you’re doing is copying from a page of the book, because that’s all it becomes; copying. Another bad lesson is when the teacher moves on too quickly because they feel they are crunched for time. If they speed through a new concept, it never is solidified and comes back to bite you in the butt since you didn’t learn it."

A few observations...students know busy work is meaningless work...good lessons have students and the teacher interacting...students don't learn when they are bored...students want to be engaged and learn new things...lecturing and taking notes is not engaging...validation of effective/less effective teaching practices.

On the subject of cell phones in class and BYOD the answers were much more thoughtful than I believe we give students credit for. They considered the potential problems and benefits.

Student A "Using cell phones in class would be beneficial for SOME people. Some students would use it the way the teachers intend for them to use it, others would get distracted by all the other things that can be accessed in the world of cellular technology. It would be a good idea to have students, instead of using their cell phone, to use a laptop or ipad. Those can be less of a distraction and they are bigger so the teacher can see what is on the screen and know whether the student is doing what they are supposed to or not. If you don’t have a device to use, you could take notes on paper and use your friends notes for the rest of what you didn’t give. Also, sometimes they have laptop carts that they could pass out to the students without the benefit of having their own device. They can email it to themselves and open it whenever they need or they could print it off and keep the paper with them."

Student B "I think using cell phones in a class could be useful. However you have to use it responsibly. kids can use the computer without going to bad sites all the time...we might be able to use phones to help us in school without texting all through class. I think teachers and students need to look into the options of using cell phones in class.
I think bringing your own device is good because you could take notes....I have my own laptop and I wouldn’t mind being able to take neat, nice, readable notes. People don't really like to go to school because its not fun...using electronics could help people want to come. My phone doesnt have internet and stuff on it, but I have my own laptop. so I could take notes and send them to a friend who missed that day or to a friend who doesn't have something to help them. But a lot of people have i-pods, or smartphones."

Student C "I don’t think kids can be trusted with their cell phones in a free school setting. Cell phones are a great, wonderful commodity, and if I had a smartphone in class I know I would benefit, but the fact is, that for cell phones to really improve the public school setting, kids would already have to be dedicated and driven to improving their education. There are so many kids that just don’t care, and giving them access to more time-wasting games would just deepen the rut of poor education and lack of enthusiasm for the “generation of entitlement”.

BYOD? I don’t know, I think it would be a great plan, the only trouble is getting lower income families, or kids whose parents don’t allow cell phones until an older age, to supply a device of high enough caliber to be able to be compatible with the technology used. What if the kid brought in a late-90’s brick phone? One thing that I really like is that KSL talk-radio, 102.7, has a 5-digit text in number (57500) and radio listeners can text in, and they read the texts on the air. I’ve done it several times before and it’s totally free and really easy. There’s definitely great ways that BYOD would work, it would just be a problem of getting all the kids to bring in a device.

Student D "I think that the use of cellphones is good but my thoughts are that not every student will have a phone so it might be an advantage to those students who do have phones.
I think the BYOD is a good idea!! For the people that may not have phones they will have other devices to use so it would be fair to everyone."

Student E "I think cell phones/ipod/smartphones are great, but with great power comes great responsibility. I’ve seen many good students get bored in class because they felt they didn’t need to learn, and so they pull out their ipods and play games on them. Thus, in turn, they distract other kids who probably should be learning, and so a few “good” students quickly drop to low grades and can’t get back up to where they wanted to be. I agree with the slanted font man, if I had a smart phone, I think I could benefit from it. As well as many others. But at the same time, kids who already don’t care about school aren’t going to suddenly care more and want to learn using their phone. They’ll just dink around in class and nothing good will come of it.

Bringing your own device would be alright, but (and not that I would care personally, or that many would) some kids might feel left out or shy away from working with kids who can bring a device. I also think it would work much much better if it was for group projects. If the class is split up, there is bound to be at least one student with an ipod/ipad/laptop that they could bring to help with the project. It also brings familiarity. I’m not going to use a school computer in real life. I’ll have my own computer without any blocks or restrictions."

observations...can see the benefits of cell phones, but also problems...complicated issue without an easy solution...

Of note all of these students are good students and like school. I would really have liked to have a better mix of low achieving and middling students who don't really like school, alas, much harder to get them to come in during the summer. Overall I was pleased with the thought students put into their answers. More than anything it validated effective and less effective teaching practices and the complexities of cell phones in class.

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