Dynamics of digital instruction, learning outcomes and equitable access can be complex, with no one-size-fits-all approach. As researchers learn more about best practices, educators are tasked with putting their findings into practice — a job harder than it sounds. Now, districts are confronting new challenges around equity and screen time as they seek to deliver remote instruction.
We asked Peter Bezanson, CEO of BASIS Educational Ventures, to share his views on students and screen time.
This interview is part of a roundtable on how researchers and educators view screen time, digital equity and learning outcomes.
EDTECH: Research about the effects of screen time varies widely. How would you characterize this issue and the effort to balance technology in schools?
BEZANSON: BASIS is a network of brick-and-mortar schools that, until recently, didn’t have a distance-learning component and had very little in the way of classroom technology, with one exception: We have a tablet that our middle-school kids and many of our high school kids use to access the SPORK Math curriculum. The SPORK platform can also be customized and used by schools to manage the whole of their curriculum, for teachers to design lessons, for schools to monitor implementation of the curriculum, and by teachers to push content to student tablets.
As a member of Generation X, I tend to look suspiciously at screen time, but I don’t think the research backs that up. We’ve embraced it when we can control the screen enough to be a piece of educational technology, rather than a gaming device. We teach kids how to respect the tablet as something from which they can gain knowledge — and to know when to put it away.