What role should technology play in school? - THINKERS Notebook

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What role should technology play in school?

Like many parents, I am busy shopping for school supplies.

And while my shopping list is long, there is one thing NOTon the list ...
New devices!

Uh-uh. No new phones, tablets, or laptops for my kids.
Yes, technology has its place in learning. Computers, mobile devices, and the internet facilitate certain types of research, communication, and knowledge management very well.

But there is a time and place for these activities -- and that time and place is not in the classroom itself. 

In fact, don't want them using technology during school ... at all.
Why? Because numerous scientific studies demonstrate that using phones and laptops in the classroom decreases a student's ability to focus and retain information. (Check out the links below, in this week's THINKERS Roundup.)
Writing notes by hand remains the best way for students to improve their cognitive skills, maintain focused attention, and retain information.
But even in the midst of putting my foot down, I recognize what life is like nowadays for kids -- especially high schoolers and middle schoolers.

Kids love their phones. The rely on them. Unlike my generation and even the one behind me, younger generations don't remember a time without smart devices fully integrated into their lives.

Kids use devices not only to communicate and socialize, they also use them for studying, reviewing notes, and sharing those notes with the peers.

You can see the obvious tension here.

Technology bad! Technology good!

As with most things in life, it's about balance. It's about maximizing the benefits while recognizing and minimizing the drawbacks.

Well, it's no hyperbole to say that alleviating this tension, and helping all people -- especially kids -- find the right balance of analog and digital in their lives has been one of the my primary motivators in founding and building the THINKERS Notebook.
Our mission is to encourage people to enjoy the benefits of capturing notes and ideas by hand while also capitalizing on what technology does well: easily organizing and sharing them on a phone.
And with school just around the corner, we're putting our money where our mouth is and offering you a special offer that is just in time for school.
THINKERS Back-To-School Bundle Special

Only $49.85 (28% Off plus Free Shipping)

The THINKERS Back-To-School Bundle includes everything a student needs to take notes in class so they can organize and share them from their phone.

  • THINKERS Smart Notebook with plenty of pages to capture notes.
  • THINKERS Pen that makes it easy to write for long periods of time.
  • THINKERS Loop so they will always have their pen conveniently available.
  • THINKERS App for capturing and sharing their class notes from their iPhone.

Individually, these items would normally cost $69.85. But for one week, we're offering them in a bundle for $20 off -- a savings of 28%.
And of course, there is no shipping cost! When you place your order today we will send it via USPS Priority Mail for fast delivery. And if you are not completely satisfied, return your order to us within 30 days for a full refund.


From grade school to grad school, the THINKERS Bundle provides the encouragement students need to succeed and demonstrates your confidence in their ability to learn.
After all, great thinkers are not born that way. It takes the right tools, encouragement, and education to cultivate a thinker who has what he or she needs to succeed in school ... and beyond.

Screen time should be kept to a minimum

"In Canada, as well as the U.S., doctors generally recommend that kids over the age of 6 spend no more than two hours watching screens a day. But only 37 percent of children in the study met this criterion. And these children, the researchers found, were more likely to score better on their cognitive tests.

"The findings were published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

“'We need to pay attention to how long we are on the screens for,' lead author Jeremy Walsh, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, told the Washington Post. 'This study is showing that less than two hours of recreational screen time is beneficial for children.'”

Read: Children Who Get Less Screen Time Think Better, Study Finds (Gizmodo)


How to navigate our new screen-centered reality

"The inconclusive results and contradictory findings led the Royal College to conclude that a causal chain between screen watching and bad outcomes could not be established. It thus recommended that we find balance between screen and non-screen time—a balance that is dependent on the nature of the child (temperament), the child’s age, and the content in question."

Read: Screen time for children: Good, bad, or it depends? (Brookings)

Quote of the week

"The key is to teach them how to be safe with technology, because ultimately, we want our children to be in charge of technology, rather than feeling technology is in charge of them.”  

-- Elaine Halligan