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Technology in Classrooms: In or Out?

by Becca Cavell

I just read this fascinating article thanks to a link that SCUP sent out to its members a few days ago. The piece, by NYU educator Clay Shirky, explains why a social media expert has banned the use of technology in his own classroom. As architects, much of our work in recent years has been trying to find effective ways to integrate technology into the classroom environment, so it is refreshing to pause for a moment and consider the relationship between effective learning and our human nature with technology. Shirky shows us that device designers and social media providers take advantage of our biological make-up to deliver “can’t ignore” messages – the sounds and visuals that emanate from our iPhones are a constant distraction from concentrated study. This probably isn’t a revelation to any of us, but when Shirky talks about the science that shows how students’ test scores diminish when they are simply within view of another person’s web browsing, we have to pay attention.

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