November 30th, 2014
Amidst reports of Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley CEOs imposing extremely strict technology rules on their children, the debate around technology use in the classroom has caught fire once again. One of the strongest arguments for banning technology in the classroom came earlier this fall, from media pundit Clay Shirky in a piece titled “Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away.”
In principle, I agree with a lot of what Shirky writes—multiple studies confirm the cognitive toll that distractions and multitasking inflict on learning; his argument that social media is designed both in form and content to distract has merit; and as an email-addict myself, I know that feeling of “instant and satisfying gratification” he describes all too well. Suggesting, however, that enforcing a technology ban is the solution to students’ lack of engagement strikes me both as insecure and a wee bit simplistic.