Technology Integration: Conquering Distraction

In the article, "Freedom, Digital Distraction, and Control," the author lists 3 approaches to "conquering distraction" in the classroom. The three approaches are: (1). Control by Authority; (2). Control through Technology; and (3). Student Self-Control.

Two Questions to Reflect On This Week:

1. Which of these best describes my current classroom/ professional development atmosphere?
2. If it possible to reach the 3rd Level (Self-Control)? If not, why? If so, what resources are needed to reach this goal?

When I take time to reflect on this, I really believe that it all starts with setting up well-established PROCESSES. (Processes involve a team of people...I am NOT talking about RULES). If processes about technology integration are clear, then we can use authority when we need it, we can control students through technology when we need to, and we should also be able to expect a certain level of level of student self-control. When there is no clear vision for the processes everyone needs to be following, everyone is confused and it will result in technology integration CHAOS in the classroom. Getting to the point where EVERY student is able to practice complete intrinsic self-control takes time, patience, guidance, and a visionary teacher who models what it looks like to follow best practices and choices. A great teacher will show the students how to use tools and strategies from their digital toolbox, as well as how to hold themselves accountable to the technology processes. Sometimes it is easier for a student to hold themselves accountable to a "process" than to a teacher. I believe that processes are bigger than any one person...processes become the natural flow charts that hold us all together.

When we rolled out Chromebooks this year, we immediately began using "The Three Learning Modes" as one of our initial processes with students and staff.

  1. Courtesy Mode: Our screens go 1/2 way down, and we are being "courteous" to the speaker or presenter. Being courteous looks like "listening students who are not typing."
  2. Technology Mode: Screens fully up with students typing and participating in the technology task at-hand.
  3. Reverse Mode: Device is completely reversed, so it is facing away from the student. In reverse mode, the teacher can see all devices, and students are not using their keyboards or screens.

Once we established this process school-wide, all of our students and teachers had a common vocabulary to use, and everyone understood the process because it was easy-to-understand and easy-to-use! Many students are practicing self-control at this point...which is GREAT! We still have a few students that need to be reminded of the process, but ALL students understand clearly why using this process helps us all. We are definitely at the beginning of our journey, but feel confident that we are doing our best to help students create their digital toolbox of strategies and resources to use!

Currently, I am working with administrators, teachers, and students to develop and map out flow-charts of district-wide consistent PROCESSES that when followed, will lead to a better support system for us all. These processes will be all-inclusive...including roles and expectations of students, teachers, and administrators, working as a team to conquer digital distraction.

cross-posted at

Kelly Clifford is the Technology Coordinator for Metropolitan School District of Steuben County, Indiana. Read more at her blog