Corporate IT Policies and their Relation to Teachers and Students

Slate recently published an article that was brought to my attention by Harold Jarche on Twitter – the article blasted the monolithic IT policies that exist in the corporate world. After reading it, it was amazing drawing the parallels to how some teachers treat their students in the classroom. Where corporate IT policies restrict people to browse what they want, some teachers want to cut off the Internet entirely from their students. I understand that idea in a testing situation, but otherwise, if someone has paid money to sit in your class, I think it’s your job to convince them to pay attention to you. Whether that’s through logical reasoning, or providing interesting, captivating commentary on issues, or engaging activities. If they’re surfing while you’re talking, clearly what you’re talking about isn’t demanding their attention.

So you have to get them to pay attention. Make the connections to relevance. Much like how in the article the first paragraph contains an example of why using Firefox is better, you need to give your students why this subject is relevant. A lot of professors forget this – they know why recursion is important to a programming example or why the subject and verb need to agree in a sentence. Your student, on the other hand, may not. If you’re not giving them this relevance, they might just be checking on the Internet to find out why. Or, more likely, they don’t see the relevance, and give up and go do something that matters. Instructors, teachers, professors, whatever you call them have to recognize that the Internet isn’t going away, it’s going to become more pervasive. You can shut off their desktop’s access to the Internet, but not the laptop grabbing a wireless connection nor a phone or another device…

Why not turn it into a game? Tell your class in groups to find out how to do stuff and teach it to the rest in mini-sessions. You can guide them easily, and the knowledge is out there. You can then fill in the blanks, if they miss bits. And that strategy works for every skill, idea, course and concept. Need to teach Word? It works. Need to teach thermodynamics? Still works. Connectivism? Yep.