There has seemed to be a lot of controversy lately regarding the distraction iPads cause in the classroom. I have a lot of opinions on technology and have had a 1:1 classroom for 5 years now, so I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what works and what doesn't.
"Do your kids play games in class?" Yes, they do...and some of those games really help them learn, some of them make their brains think logically or in a different way, while others seem to serve no purpose at all.
What it comes down to, in my opinion, is lesson design. If the educator has created a lesson that is interesting and engaging, the problem of gaming really doesn't exist.
If I am running a lesson in my classroom and look out and see my kids disengaged and playing Madden, that forces me to re-evaluate MY lesson. It makes me a better teacher to have that challenge facing me each day.
I don't want a room full of disengaged game playing students. I want them to be interested in what we are doing and learning how they can exist in the digital world. I want them creating content to share and teach the world. I want them to leave my room with a positive digital footprint.
When I first started teaching my course, over ten years ago, it was an elective. I had one section of the course and about 15 kids signed up. I knew that if I didn't create engaging lessons that they liked, I wouldn't be teaching it again the following year. This was prior to iPads, smartphones, and computers in my classroom.
It is not about the device, its truly about the design of the course. There have always been distractions in the classroom, only the type of distraction has changed and will continue to change. Make kids want to be in your class. Teach the kid and not the stuff. Find out what they are good at and find a way to incorporate their skills into your curriculum. Connect it to their lives. It's the same philosophy most teachers have had for years.