Authors: Eudemic

One of the things I hear most often from teachers who are reluctant to put technology into the hands of their students is that they have visions of students goofing off constantly behind their screen instead of focusing on their work.

Playing games, chatting with their friends, and browsing the internet are all likely suspects drawing your students’ attention away from whatever the task at hand happens to be, but just because students have access to technology doesn’t mean you have to transform into device police and forget about teaching. Even if your students would much rather be watching videos on YouTube than learning about the Roman Empire, you still have the upper hand: they want to be using the device. Period.

So how can you leverage that into students who are actually working on what they should be? Here are a few tips. Tell us what you do in your classroom to keep your students from goofing off while they have devices in hand! Share with the Edudemic community by by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.


  1. Set A Timer: For some activities, you’ll know about how long it will take the student to find the information they’re looking for or to complete a task. Set a timer for an appropriate amount of time, and let the students know they’ll need to complete the task by then. Ensure there is proper motivation for finishing on time.
  2. “Punish” With Paper:  Many tasks can be completed both with a device or with paper. If they can’t get their work done in the allotted time with the device, have them use paper the following day. Having to use paper is a lot less cool than using a device to do the same thing – especially in your students’ eyes.
  3. Use Guided Access: If you really want to be 100% sure that your students are only using a single app, use the Guided Access feature in iOS. It may feel a little big brother-y, but it definitely does the trick.
  4. Set Goals: Students are more likely to goof off when they’re faced with a blank screen and no plan. Before taking out devices, have the students make a plan (write it down if necessary). What goals are they trying to achieve today? What information do they need? What are they trying to communicate?
  5. The Tech Doesn’t Always Have To Be “ON”: It may seem like a basic concept, but just because you have a 1:1 classroom doesn’t mean the technology always has to be on. Technology isn’t always needed, and when it isn’t (say, during a lecture or a portion of the class when the teacher is explaining a concept (rather than a student ‘doing’), students may be tempted to have a wandering eye. If the technology isn’t necessary, have them close the laptop or turn off the device, and move it away from them a little bit.


Read more