Discussing initiatives such as BYOD or 1-to-1 technology initiatives, there is often a lot of fear about “balance”. First of all, the notion of “balance” is something that I truly believe should not be determined for anyone other than yourself. What is “balance” to one, might look significantly different to someone else. When we talk about kids having “balance”, do we imply something unique to them, or our own belief on what “balance” is?
Secondly, the notion that a student will always use a device because they have one, is not necessarily a reality. Kids still do physical education, go outside, and do many of the same things that I did in school, even with pencil and paper. Providing a device doesn’t mean the student will be using it all of the time, but could have access all of the time. This is a pretty powerful concept. When I was in school, if I wanted to learn more about a certain country or animal, I would wait until we had “library time” to be able to further explore this concept, unless that was the week the teacher brought resources into the classroom on that topic. Even when those resources were provided, they were limited. With a device at your fingertips, the possibilities are endless. It does not dismiss the books that are available, but it can complement them.
It is not that we have access to find information, but to also create it. Often ideas will come to me, and having a device in my pocket allows me to share my thoughts to different applications that I have access to on any other device. I do not have to worry about guarding a piece of paper with my life, or having my stuff somewhere else. In fact, this blog post came from writing a few notes from my phone on Google Docs, and then accessing them from my computer. Even with paper, I was not able to do this, not only because of the lack of access, but it was not something I was in the habit of doing because of how I struggled with organizational skills with paper as a kid. The access has changed everything.
So when we look at a kid that struggles with writing with paper and pencil, but accelerates using technology (or honestly vice versa), we have to look at what “access” creates. If the goal is to read and write, providing access to different options and opportunities, will ensure that more of our students learn a way that works best for them, not necessarily us.