In this age of technology, we see an increasing number of devices all around us. From smartphones to e-readers to laptops and more, technology is firmly embedded in our lives. Today’s students are typically plugged in to some type of device during all their waking hours—and sometimes even when they should be sleeping or focusing on other things, such as studying and participating in the classroom. What is a teacher to do? Form an Alliance with Technology In the past, teachers often had to compete for their students’ attention when they got distracted with other classmates or activities going on outside the classroom. Today’s students typically get distracted with their electronic devices, especially smartphones, which become a barrier to learning as teachers must compete for their students’ attention against the allure of screen time. Instead of competing with technology, however, teachers should form an alliance with it and use it to their advantage to engage students in more effective, interactive learning. At School Specialty Inc. (SSI), we can provide you with the tools you need to save time and reduce frustration, increase attentiveness and retention, and encourage engagement and focus in the classroom. Implement Classroom Technology with Effective Policies Adapting and adopting effective policies will help teachers to implement and integrate technology successfully in the classroom. Policies for technology in the classroom might include the following: • The initial policy would be requiring students to put away their smartphones during class, or at least to restrict personal use, meaning no texting or playing games during class. • Teachers should consider the purpose of each form of technology and choose those devices most relevant and conducive to learning for their particular students and subject matter. As Dr. Jamie McKenzie warns, “toolishness is foolishness,” meaning trying to use every form of technological tool available for the classroom, with no plan or specific purpose, will do more harm than good. Each technological tool or digital device should clearly address and facilitate designated learning objectives and outcomes. • Each carefully selected tool or device should coincide with a structured lesson plan to enhance, not replace, learning. For instance, after a lesson on solving math equations, or using proper grammar, the teacher could provide the appropriate software on e-readers or laptops (sometimes even smartphone apps) to reinforce learning. This might include interactive software that will engage students in applying concepts in a hands-on manner—in other words, the skills they use every day on their own, but adapted to the classroom. • Teachers might reward students with a 5-minute break to use their smartphones for personal use after successful completion of interactive exercises. Why Is Classroom Technology So Important? Today’s 21st century learners live in the digital age and must know how to use technology in school and beyond. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has established standards for teachers to follow to ensure their students acquire the technological savvy they need to be fully prepared when they enter the workforce and life beyond the classroom. At SSI, we offer teachers dozens of audio-visual, electronic, and interactive learning products to equip their classrooms with intriguing and engaging educational technology. These products cover the range from audio electronics, to electronic whiteboards, to interactive learning technology, to projection systems.