Technology Contracts for Home and School

With the holiday season wrapping up I thought it would be a good time to discuss all the technology based gifts that kids received under the tree! We all know that kids love iPads, laptops, YouTube, FaceTime, and numerous apps. As a “techie parent” I also love all the devices and apps, but I also require my daughter to use the technology for learning and personal growth.

After sitting through about a zillion different technology presentations, I realized that technology needs to be used for the right reasons. Devices get a bad wrap because kids are often seen staring at a screen for hours without “learning” anything. To help prevent this I created a simple Technology Contract for my daughter.

Here are the details:

I first talked with her about ways to use the laptop to help her learn and grow. We came up with a list of ideas together. 

  • Research
  • Homework
  • Writing Stories
  • Creating presentations
  • Making YouTube videos
  • Using Google Sheets to make a budget

After we came up with a list of positive ways to use her laptop, we then discussed how she would “prove” to me that she is learning with her laptop. She agreed to make 2 presentations, videos, or movies and then on the 15th of each month she would present them to me. 

I know that a contract for an 11 year old can seem like a bit too much, but she was all about and felt very grown up. I simply typed the details of our contract and then had her sign it to make it “legal”! I could care less if she lost the contract because the process of creating the contract was more important than the paper.

As the first month of our contract progressed, I gave my daughter a few reminders and asked how she was doing on her tech contract and I always received a tidbit of new information. When the 15th of the month came around I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I received a full presentation, backed by research and citations all about the new Apple iPhone. If you refer to my contract above, I did not ask for citations, she knew from hearing my multiple conversations that we are only borrowing someone else’s information online.

I am happy to report that after 3 months that I haven’t had to ask or remind my daughter for proof of learning with her laptop. I have received 3 page stories (I’m pretty sure she is not writing this much in her classroom), research and presentations on new Apple products, and numerous iMovies. I have also watched her seamlessly take movies and pictures from one device to another, which proves she thinks about her contract even when she is at school.

I honestly think a little accountability goes a long way. Would she have made presentations on her own, most likely, but having a small amount of pressure has pushed her to create more and more.

Now, let’s talk about how this looks in a classroom. I bet you are already thinking about making contracts for your students, and yes, you could do that, but as educators you should think about this for yourself.

How often do you have a student use an iPad to practice math facts, take a reading test, or blah blah. All of these are great, but they are lower level skills. I often refer to the SAMR model when I look at apps and most of the lower level apps fall in the Substitution category. samr-model-graphic

As a teacher, I encourage you to create a Technology Contract for yourself that includes lessons in the Modification and Redefinition categories. Start small with one to two a month and then slowly increase throughout the school year. I think that you will find your students progressively moving above the line more and more without your guidance.

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