“By contrast, when children controlled the session, there was never a significant drop in attention across sessions, a finding that was unique to their group. The results suggest that user control plays an important role as an engagement feature that can facilitate children’s attention to and interest in computer activities (Calvert 2005).” In my work as a librarian/technology teacher at an elementary school, this finding is not necessarily surprising to me. My students absolutely lose interest in teacher-driven activities and prefer interactive lessons, where they can make decisions, selections and choices. As much as possible, I try to ensure that my students have the opportunity to engage in activities that they are able to control with as minimal adult intervention as possible.
I also build in time for students to use computers in a pleasurable way. Where I work, there is a longer school day and longer school year, the thinking is that the extra time can be spent working towards closing the achievement gap between impoverished and wealthy students. A great deal of focus is spent on academics – to the point where I sometimes feel like students are denied the chance to be children. So I build in time for students to ‘play’ on computers. Generally, that ‘play’ consists of websites and games that have some educational component so that children are still learning – as per my principal but other times, it is simply something that the students find entertaining. In reading High-Tech Tots, I although multiple references to ‘play’ were made, it seems as though the play being discussed had an educational component. Does computer play have to have any academic value to be beneficial?
I had a hard time with this week’s readings. I am not sure why. Maybe because my experiences teaching ‘technology’ have allowed me to gain a less formal understanding of some of the content of the reading. In any event, I will continue to try to take something away from every week in this course. This week – I am taking away the fact that we are not meant to multitask and when we do – that which we are multitasking suffers.