Middle School Students Speak

Our Middle School student government gathered some information from the students and brought it to the faculty for consideration. As this is the first year of both our 1:1 iPad program and using Schoology as an LMS, there’s been a steep learning curve for students and teachers alike. It’s interesting to me to see the student feedback and notice that some of their suggestions are along the lines of what I’d advise to teachers (and hopefully practice in the classroom as well).

Here’s the summation as delivered to the faculty without further commentary:

  • What’s working
    • Most students are carrying less “stuff” – iPads are replacing the overfilled binders
    • More organized
    • All you need is in one place
    • Schoology is good:
      • can communicate with teachers and classmates
      • easy to find stuff
      • reliable
      • submitting work is easy (with the app, or Notability)
    • Mostly reliable wifi (when on the school network)
  • What’s not working/difficult
    • Eyes hurt at the end of the day
    • Distracting! Even when you aren’t on your iPad playing games, it is distracting when someone else is; impacting students who want to learn (Games, Snapchat, etc.)
    • Not reliable
    • Deletes work
    • Not easy to back up
    • Some apps, wifi not working
    • Lose valuable class time
    • Updating: not sure when to/not to – confusing
    • Forgot chargers @ home
    • Lockers don’t have chargers, aren’t convenient (can each classroom have a charger?)
  • Protocol recommendations
    • NO iPads at the beginning of class
    • No one walks in with their iPad open/on (they can stay in the hall but have to be on-time to class)
    • iPads ONLY open/out when a teacher says to take them out
    • Teachers take more initiative to monitor iPad use
    • When starting class, make sure no one has their iPad out
    • Avoid rows
    • Walk around
    • iPads should be FLAT on the desk – no tilts, not in laps
    • When it is work or reading time, teacher walks around and monitors use
    • Consequences for playing games:
      • Every time: iPad taken away, use paper or if must have an iPad use a loaner with no games
      • Three strikes:
        • 1.       Warning
        • 2.       Call home and advisor notified
        • 3.       Principal’s office


Large bias alert: It strikes me how often many of our fears about devices in the classroom are rooted in classroom management and engagement. The point was raised in our faculty discussion that if students are fully engaged and buy in to the activities, many of the student concerns about games/distractions go away. At the same time, students are asking us to enforce an “iPads flat on the desk” policy and actively move about the room to monitor student use of the device. I still see too many classrooms that look like a teacher-centric space with all of the screens facing away from the teacher. I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument for why you would ever have a classroom where the screens are not fully visible to the teacher at all times from everywhere in the room (i.e. screens on the table, brightness turned up). I understand ergonomic concerns from a display perspective, as well as eye strain, but working on the iPad when it’s flat on the table is more ergonomically friendly to my mind, and the effect of brightness on the eyes is highly variable with the distance of the screen to the student’s face.

I think that a teacher is well within our rights to say that in this learning environment, we have our thoughts, work,  and progress open so that a teacher can coach and assist as needed.

What About You?

Have you collected feedback from your students? Is it similar what ours reported, or do your students have a different take? I’m interested to see how the different philosophies of programs as well as student cultures shape their responses to device programs and blended learning environments. What do you read in our students’ response?

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