Dealing with Technology in the Classroom
by Dana QuigleyCell Phones & Sexting | Social Networking & Cheating | Cyber-Bullying & Cyber-Bashing
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What are they? Social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, were originally intended for young adults and college-aged students. As the popularity of such sites grew, age restrictions loosened and adolescents have become adept at working around the often lax security measures implemented to block youngsters from joining such sites.
Why are they a problem? Students who join these sites can come into contact with a seemingly infinite list of strangers. Cox Communications has estimated that 75% of teenagers have a profile on a social networking site; some have profiles on multiple sites. Recent media reports have also suggested that constant attention to such sites leads to poor academic performance. Some students use social networking sites to spread vicious rumors about other students and to bully them.
How to spot the problem: Unless students access the sites from school computers, usage will be difficult to spot.
What to do: Students should be warned of the dangers that these sites pose, and access to these sites should be blocked on school computers. Though the sites may be blocked on school equipment, students who have Internet-capable cell phones may still gain access to the sites during school hours. Encourage parents and guardians to monitor Internet use at home to ensure that their children are not coming into contact with people they would not invite into their home.
What is it? While cheating is not as new as the problems discussed above, students today use technology to cheat more effectively than they have in the past. Cheating no longer consists of passing notes or whispering answers; instead, it is nearly silent and invisible due to the technology at students' disposal. Cell phones are the most obvious tool for cheating, but calculators, PDAs, iPods, and food wrappers are also used by cheaters.
Why is it a problem? Calculators, PDAs, and iPods allow students to load notes and chat with other students to share answers. Food wrappers are used to conceal information; some websites offer templates and tips to print out labels for such purposes. With increasing access to the Internet on cell phones, students no longer need to sit in front of a computer to hunt for answers, never mind take the time to write a cheat-sheet.
How to spot the problem: The most obvious warning sign is a marked improvement in the test scores of normally poor- or average-performing students.
What to do: Technology has made it easier than ever to cheat, so the most effective step is to remove the technology. Do not allow cell phones, PDAs, iPods, or other such devices in the classroom. Tell your students they can bring only a pen or pencil and other required materials to class during examinations. Have students deposit their backpacks or other books away from their desks; this removes any hiding places for electronic devices. Since these methods do not work for all disciplines, the best method to combat cheating may come from an academic honesty pact. Research suggests that students who pledge academic honesty tend not to cheat.