I have always allowed students in my classes to listen to their iPods (it used to be discman, prior to MP3 players) when it is appropriate. Key word, appropriate. Since I am the leader in my class I deem what is and is not appropriate.
To me, it just makes sense to encourage the use of iPods when students are exercising because whenever I run, or exercise I always have my iPod cued up to my favorite playlist or podcast. It is such an efficient way for me to manage my time. Why should I prevent my students from having the same opportunity?
This year, my school has taken a strong stance against iPods all across the board. In fact, for the first month of school the daily announcements end with, “Students, just a reminder that cell phones, iPods, and electronical devices are not allowed out during the school day, if they are they will be confiscated.” My contention is that teachers should be able to have the discretion as to what is and is not appropriate in their classes.
Now, my school is no different from most other schools out there. Administrators are quick to just outlaw anything that might get students off task, instead of just adapting to new technologies that engage new learners. Just as, with filters on the internet, students are teaching themselves new ways to being sneaky. In my opinion, educators are encouraging and fostering that negative quality which is far worse than just teaching them appropriate etiquette with the new advances in technology.
It simply comes down to classroom management. Do I permit students to have earbuds in when I am teaching content? Absolutely not. I taught (keyword there, taught) them that it was rude and they would lose the privilege to have them in class if they violated that procedure. Now as a result, I have a lesson that strictly tells them why iPods are great tools to motivate kids to exercise and be active, but not a tool that we can practice in my class.
The over arching theme though is that administration reacts to the negative behaviors of students and simply bans or blocks content that can be valuable teaching tools. Students are going to learn what they want to learn. With the power of the internet, they can learn anything they want. Schools hold the responsibility to teach them what practices are appropriate and what are not.
My school district, Jefferson County Public Schools, has recently unblocked the social networking site Twitter. Prior to that they unblocked YouTube. I see that as a very progressive move by the district. There are too many opportunities that are denied when simply blocking a site because it could be used for personal email, as filters usually proclaim.
Give teachers the power of their own class and let them teach students proper usage. If a teacher is uncomfortable with it, then they simply so no. Case closed.
If we don’t teach them they will teach each other as the video indicates. By the way, I am a borderline digital native, as Marc Prensky would suggest, and I can remember doing a very similar rig as the kid in the video to listen to University of Kentucky basketball games in March during tournament time. I made all A’s.