Turning Technology Time into Learning Time

In an article in the November 21, 2010 New York Times, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Matt Richtel wrote a thorough and insightful piece on students’ use of technology. While he focused on one high school in Silicon Valley, the issues he addresses cut across geography and also impact college students. Richtel’s piece explores how schools are struggling to educate students in an era when they stare at screens of various sorts for most of the day while bouncing between facebook, text messages, and phone calls. He chronicles one student who sends 27,000 text messages a month.

Schools are having a hard time adapting to students’ use of technology – an issue we’ve written about in this space. On the one hand, educators aim to teach students the value of sustained focus on a task and delayed gratification. On the other hand, schools understand the need to meet students where they’re at: short on attention span but long on technology usage. As such, schools need to figure out how to turn more of the time students spend with technology into engaged, learning time. What’s the best way for schools, and colleges, to do this? Not an easy question to answer.

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