Technology in the classroom can be a wonderful thing, but it won't stop children being children.
Indeed, left to their own (mobile) devices, the presence of tablets, laptops and other gadgets in the classroom can be too much of a temptation for some students. What is meant to be a tool to engage and enthrall can quickly become a distraction as young hands focus on anything but the lesson.
Aside from offering an excellent means of distraction, technology in the classroom also poses safeguarding issues either. Internet access always carries the risk of children getting sight of inappropriate material online, no matter how good you think your school's security features are. And then there is also the risk of cyber bullying through IM and social media platforms, even harder to police if your school runs a BYOD scheme.
None of this should put any teacher off embracing more technology in the classroom, however. As with all things in a school, the key to engaging and protecting young people as they learn is good behaviour management.
Here are some simple tips for keeping technology use on the straight and narrow in your classroom.
Create an Acceptable Use Policy
All classroom behaviour management should start with clear, straightforward rules that no one can claim they have never heard before or don't understand. Come up with a list of, say, five golden rules of acceptable use, and be prepared to explain and discuss why they are important.
Even better, make a lesson out of the class coming up with the policy for themselves. That will generate more discussion about why rules are needed for using digital devices in class, and students will take ownership of them.
The days of teachers standing at the front of the classroom dictating to a classroom are long behind us, but if there were ever any reminders needed about the benefits of moving around the classroom and interacting with students all lesson, just look to IT. If you want to keep young people using technology appropriately, you need them to know you vigilant and watching what they are doing. You also need to show that you can use the technology too, and won't be fooled by wizz kids who try to minimise windows quickly whenever you walk past.
There is little point having rules if students face no consequences if they break them. The best sanction when it comes to technology is to have your right to use revoked - if they can't use a device as expected, they won't use it at all.
Consider Investing in MDM
Mobile Device Management software is perhaps the safest way to ensure acceptable use of technology in the classroom. MDM platforms connect all users centrally - students log in at the start of the lesson, and the teacher then has control over what programs or apps they can use and which sites they can visit.
Make Lessons Sparkle
Finally, the best way to keep young minds on track during lessons is to make them so interesting and engaging that all of their focus is on what they are learning, and thoughts of misbehaving don't even enter their head. Young people love technology, and it has the power to make lessons sparkle. Use it to your advantage.