Unplugging To Connect: A Tech Timeout For Schools?

Unplugging To Connect: A Tech Timeout For Schools?

A Tech Timeout For Schools

by TeachThought Staff

From a press release: As part of a national movement called the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge, a San Francisco school will shut down their tech devices for three days beginning February 12.


What happens when over 1,100 students in grades K-12, at a school that prides itself on ubiquitous access to technology, power down their electronic devices for three straight days? That question will be answered on February 12-14 when students at Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco take The Tech Timeout Academic Challenge. It will be the first school in the greater Bay Area to take the challenge and just the third in California.

The Convent & Stuart Hall Tech Timeout is unique in that it includes students ranging in age from four to 18 and spans the divide between school-provided technology and personal devices such as cell phones. All students are encouraged to participate and will complete a pledge sheet where they list all of the technologies from which they agree to abstain. Parents can also participate and will be given a family kit that they can use to help them succeed.

“The opt-in is a critical piece,” says Howard Levin, Director of Educational Innovation and Information Services.

The hope is that participating students and their families will walk away from the Tech Timeout with a better understanding of their dependence on technology. Following the challenge, students will discuss their experience of going “tech-free” and evaluate their personal practice of how to disconnect.

“In some ways the kid that fails has a better chance of being reflective,” Howard says. “We want to create cognitive dissonance among those who join.”

This is the first year that Convent & Stuart Hall has fully adopted an ePack program across all ages designed to provide daily access to a wide range of digital tools, including a 1-to-1 program with the Apple iPad, but encompassing much more than a single device. Howard says that at the heart of the program is a desire to change the ed-tech model from “learn to use” in computer labs to a “use to learn” model where technology can aid in any lesson.

To reflect this shift, the school recently designed new positions for its ed-tech faculty. Now a team of Educational Innovation Coordinators work full-time to support teachers in the use of digital tools and innovative spaces. The administration is in part facilitating the timeout to ensure that the school continues to use the provided devices in the most effective and mindful way.

“A school like ours that embraces a 1-to-1 program needs to find balance,” Howard says. “We need to also help students not only learn how to use technology wisely, but how to recognize how devices can get in the way of having real conversations and relationships.”

The Tech Timeout Academic Challenge sponsored by Foresters will launch on Feb 12 with an assembly where students will seal their phones inside envelopes.

To date, more than 16,000 students across North America have participated in the challenge.

Howard Levin and Ann Marie Krejcarek, President of Schools along with a Foresters spokesperson, are available for further comments. To learn more about the Tech Timeout Academic Challenge, visit: http://techtimeout.com/academicchallenge/; adapted flickr user flickeringbrad; Unplugging To Connect: A Tech Timeout For Schools?