For a number of years, I believed in the role of the teacher as THE holder of all relevant course knowledge, knowledge that was required to be transmitted to the empty vessels of students sitting diligently in front of me without the one-way pedagogy being questioned at all. I would transmit, they would receive, they would pass, I would pass for a good teacher.
After a while however, I started to realise that the students may have acquired the necessary knowledge but that they had no say in how they received it or how they recorded or expressed the knowledge. For me, the penny dropped two years ago when just as I was about to wipe another brilliant whiteboard full of English material, a student in the class said "Hold on Sir, I want to take a picture of the whiteboard." What on earth was she doing? Didn't she know that learning is about writing everything done? How dare she be cunning enough to not write anything down and instead document what I had written via taking a picture on her smartphone? Worse was to come! More and more students realised that the best way of recording my screeds of whiteboard masterpieces was not to write anything but wait, wait and once I had finished, snap, snap, snappity-snap! Even more worse was that absent students no longer asked me about regarding missed work. They got a photo shared from a classmate and if need be, printed the missed day(s)' work.
I have to admit I was at this stage the veritable deer in the headlights. The students who were supposed to be inferior to me, (the great holder of knowledge) had outwitted me!
Back to 2015, I have now turned the tables on my students and restored the natural balance of power. Through each student now having their own individual laptop, I haven't used a whiteboard since March 4th of this year and so the students can no longer take photos of any whiteboard content. Ha-ha got them now! Through the daily use of Google Classroom, I don't even now need to speak of the lesson content, to do so would only disrupt the students completing the work required.
What is fascinating however is despite the students daily having a laptop in front of them, they are engaging more with one another face-to-face and by the end of a typical lesson, I'm now almost exhausted due to a number of one-on-one conversations and deep student questioning.
In closing, I've learnt to accept and embrace the growing presence of digital technology in my classroom. The students like it. They are more engaged, they are stronger academic citizens and even better, I'm less scared when a student pulls a phone. In a way, now I think it's pretty cool.