When the Rules Get in the Way

I have been having an interesting discussion with a mother of one of the students at our school. Her daughter is very responsible and always on task and was one of the students we looked at when modelling the kind of behaviour with the iPad we would like to see in all our students.

The discussion is centered around the new iPad rules we put in place after taking stock of our lessons learned last year (where we did not develop a set of rules regulating appropriate use). We looked at the survey we took of the Grade 7 class and made the following recommendations:



The grade 7 class were walked through these rules at the beginning of the year and a couple of weeks ago I went to speak to the grade 8 class (our first 1:1 iPad class). While the grade 7s dutifully took it all in without a peep, the Grade 8 class naturally had some issues.

One issue that has come up is that the girl (in Grade 8) uses her alerts to remind her of lunchtime meetings and other school-related meetings, which is great! Except for the fact that we tell them to put on the Do Not Disturb during school hours which means they won’t receive their alerts until the end of the day.

HUh. Problem. I really really hate when too many rules get in the way of innovative, efficient use of technology. I have had some experience at other jobs that have so many filters and blocks and security precautions that it almost renders the machine useless. I am very wary of doing that with the students.

The unfortunate truth about rules is that they are usually a reaction to a problem only the minority of a population have. The rules were created above for those students who had said yes to all the push notifications of all the apps they purchased so they were constantly being distracted in class by someone posting something on Facebook (eg. I just had a glass of  orange juice! Alert!) or any game they happen to be playing.

So what to do? I personally believe we can keep the spirit of the law (turn off most notifications except the ones used for school) and leave the reminders and alerts a student needs for the school day.

Having said that, I still think the alert needs to be on mute. It is one thing to have it pop up on the screen, another to remind the whole class you have a science tutorial at lunch….

What do you think?


3 thoughts on “When the Rules Get in the Way

  1. I think that if it’s for a school-related activity they should be allowed to use alerts! As we all know, different kids work with different learning needs, and part of our role as educators is to help them figure out the tools that they best need to learn; if this student has realized that she needs these alerts to keep her organized for a school-related activity, then more power to her! But I get that it becomes a slippery slope that is difficult to enforce. Argh.

  2. Like steak-spice, use of technology is neither a good thing nor a bad thing in and of itself. It really depends on your use of the technology. Steak spice on KD is bad, on steak -Good! I think that we want to enable (empower..) free-thinking students who use critical judgement. For this reason I feel that alerts, iPad use, instant messaging (etc) should be seen as teaching opportunities and opening points for discussions on acceptable (ethical, polite…) use of technology. If we want to create a world of rule followers (and rule breakers), then we should just make blanket policies and not open up any discussions with our students. I opt for the model where students are taught about etiquette, and then exercise their free-will to make well informed (hopefully) decisions. Generally student rise to the level of expectations, even more so when they are informed of those expectations.

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