1. John Spencer

    How do we help kids figure out how to go on “Airplane Mode” voluntarily? And why do some kids seem better at it than others?

    • Stephen Ransom

      Good question, John. Airplanes supposedly do it for safety purposes. Classrooms supposedly enforce it for learning purposes. In both cases, how many would voluntarily forego the use of their devices? On planes, I repeatedly see people refuse to follow the mandates, hide their running devices from the flight attendants, pretend to shut them off,… Just like in classrooms.

      Many would say that the solution is to have “engaging learning experiences”. Is that enough?

      Obviously, the reason of safety and the notion of possible death doesn’t work for many because they don’t really “buy” it.

    • Margaret Haviland

      I would suggest we as adults model “Airplane Mode”. At our school
      there are places were mobile devices are not allowed — the theater, the dining room, the meeting house. We tell kids not to be talking on their cell phones in public places — there are lots of spaces for those “voice” connections.

      As adults we are expected to live within these guidelines too. The dining room is a place for connection and relationship with the people in the room. The Meeting House is a place of worship — 45 minutes of silent worship during the week. The theater is a place to celebrate the performances and ideas of peers, artists, presenters.

      Our school culture is one based on relationships. We choose to be in relationship with the people we are with –those in the building and those beyond the building. The classroom is a place of relationship as well. And here, there is room to extend and connect beyond the classroom. Again this requires us as teachers and administrators to model. I bring my tablet and smartphone with me to class. My student’s see both. They see that I don’t answer the phone (when I forget to mute it!). I don’t text while they are speaking. I do use when we are doing a web search(they are always faster), when we want to capture something in a photo, when we are texting their parents or friends with questions. Ditto my tablet, when they are speaking, when we are having a class discussion, when one of them is leading class, my tablet is closed. I am giving them my attention. I expect the same from them. I ask them to generate reasons and guidelines for this rather fluid electronic connection and disconnection. We discuss what kinds of electronic connection support our work as a class and which ones don’t.

      {Full disclosure, I have colleagues who remain convinced that electronic devices of any kind are distractions and have no place in the classroom.}

  2. Jeremy Inscho

    Agreed: powerful learning can happen with devices, but probably not in most classes most of the time. For the rest of the time, as we work toward having more technologically integrated education, is it inappropriate to ask kids to be in airplane mode? Similarly, adults aren’t used to conforming to the rules as much as kids have to. Maybe we just need to be adults and get over it until we’re in those places where we are trusted and encouraged to use the tech and its an integral part of what’s going on. Similarly, we might also trust that there is more value being in airplane mode and making connections with those physically around us and being fully involved.

  3. Louise Deibe

    Two things strike me about this :
    1 The assumption by some that having these devices in our learning spaces is a distraction rather than an opportunity. To this I would suggest that perhaps it is a more productive distraction to be connected than when I stare at the board pretending to be engaged when I am far from it. How presumptious of us to assume that this equals engagement.
    2. The issue of trust. Imagine if we started from a position of believing that all kids were trustworthy. Imagine if we assumed that kids want to do the right thing. Imagine if we modeled what we want to see develop in our kids. Or we could stop imagining and just do it!

  4. Debbie Axiak

    Some great points here George. I like that I can use my smart phone to connect & to jot down a note or thought, or quickly Google something I’m curious about. When we model connecting, curiosity and organizational skills in a courteous manner, students usually follow suit. When they don’t, it becomes a teachable moment.

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