Posted by: crudbasher | May 9, 2011

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Jeff Utecht over at The Thinking Stick has posted a really great entry about how the dynamic in the classroom has changed. I think most teachers are struggling with this problem of how to compete for students attention when they have Internet access in the classroom.

Jeff I think has nailed it in a very succinct way. Essentially when each student has a personalized information stream coming into them, it is impossible to compete with it as a teacher using traditional ways. I agree.  Even if you force the students to put their devices away, they still aren’t necessarily listening to you. Instead they are just zoning out a bit. It’s almost like a little power nap for them while they wait to reconnect to their streams.

In a situation like this, the most apt phrase I think is “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

Students have created their own networks of information so give them assignments and projects where they have to use them for school work. You can also give them new sources of info to plug into their networks in order to fulfill the assignments.

Most importantly though, let the students put their own individual take on presenting their results. These days, they personalize everything so let them personalize their results. That doesn’t mean let them learn things that are incorrect mind you. Just let them choose a medium that they enjoy to convey results. I’m also an advocate for peer to peer sharing of their work. They will work much harder if their work is shown to their peers than if it’s just shown to you.

We can’t put the Internet genie back into the bottle so it’s time to deal with the new reality.

  • Great post about how to get students attention in the classroom

    tags: education technology profound nell

    • When we live in a connected world we have a personal stream of information that is comforting to use.
    • I’m sure many of us have been there….relaxing on the couch yet totally immersed in information…information that we want because it’s relevant to us at that time and we’ve chosen that particular information.
    • Now think of our students with their iPhones, Blackberries, iPods, Laptops, PlayStation 3s, and every other device that they interact with. All of these devices allow them to create and tap into their personal stream of information.
    • Then they go to school, they walk into classrooms and the door closing behind them signals a disconnect from the personal stream…you see their heads go down, their body language shows they’ve switched off and for the next 90 minutes they sit there listening to you talk about your information not theirs.
    • You can be the most dynamic teacher in your school but how do you compete with a personal information stream that is waiting just beyond the door of the classroom?
    • The problem with education is we teachers can not compete with the personal information stream. It’s a battle we will never win.
    • So the only option is not to compete with it, but to embrace it, use it, foster it, and acknowledge that it exists.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. We also think blending technology in the classroom with help foster passion in their learning. I talk about it more here in this blog post:

    And you are right, the “If you can’t beat them, join them” strategy is a good one!

    • Hey Joel thanks for stopping by. I agree that passion is something missing from learning today!

  2. The idea is really awesome .In this way ,teachers may be able to get the desired attention of students.

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