There are some who consider tech devices to be a nuisance and more distracting than they are beneficial. In some instances, schools have gone to the extreme of banning computers, iPads or other devices outright, given they have become the context of many behaviour management strategies, and the cause of a number of issues for teachers.
On the other hand, there are some who have implemented them across the entire school, in every classroom and use them as the centre of learning and teaching; even so far as to use only digital textbooks.
It may heavily depend on the context, though from experience there is significant value in traditional reading, writing and creativity that are lost when substituted with computers and tablets.
As for each situation, each approach is definitely contextual. What works in one situation may need modification in another, due to school, student or other requirements.
In some cases, teachers are stressed and confused as to how to use the technology effectively, and in others there is a plethora of support for implementation.
I have taught in systems with 1:1 laptops, 1:1 iPads, and some with no laptops, just computer labs. I lived through the introduction of the state government 1:1 laptop program (just). The experience was mixed, and through it all there are some general ideas that could help schools struggling with various programs.
First, it needs to be executed well. The physical infrastructure, support systems and opportunities for student education and professional development need to be in place and robust.
Systems that are flakey, problematic and constantly on edge due to load or other issues will only cause heartache. A lack of educational implementation support causes frustration.
If you’re experiencing these issues, conduct an audit to identify the causes and work towards a plan of improvement. Bandwidth, speed and user knowledge are key to good network infrastructure. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it. Next, tablets are perfect for Years 7 to 9 as tools of recording learning.
Teach students to take photos of their learning, record video of experiments and analyse their work. Writing, reading, textbooks and creative work should be tangible and physical.
These are critical skills they need into their future. I have experienced students in Year 12 who cannot write because they have only ever typed. Years 10 to 12 benefit from the power and versatility of a laptop.
Blend this with traditional modes of communication. Given time and training, they will learn to use these appropriately. Finally, restrict all use of mobile or digital devices in your playground.
Students need to be interacting, spending time laughing, talking and playing.
Too many groups of young people sit in small groups texting each other rather than developing critical social skills. It can be done, and with persistence, student and parental buyin, well developed professional support, and strong infrastructure, it is a recipe for success.