Edtech and Student Organization: It’s Complicated

Many people assume today’s students are highly organized, given all the technological apps and gadgetslearn-977543_640 at their disposal to help file, store and share documents. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. After Green Ivy founder Ana Homayoun wrote her first book, That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week, she quickIy realized the increase in one-to-one iPad and computer programs in schools simply meant that the crumpled papers once in the bottom of the backpack are now piling up on home screens and desktops. As a result, she’s been consulting with schools over the past six years on how to better implement one-to-one programs in schools and increase the effectiveness of Edtech.


In my work at Green Ivy, I regularly see the majority of students struggle with finding assignments, tracking due dates and planning out long-term projects, no matter the technology at hand. In some ways, technology makes their lives more complicated. The proliferation of technology in our schools is not ground-breaking news, and educators point to the benefits of enhanced creativity and collaboration, along with increased options for self-paced learning and different learning styles. It’s pretty amazing to see how technology has the ability to create a more inclusive classroom environment, however, some of its drawbacks get lost in the excitement.


Several factors contribublackboard-573023_640te to these complications. Often, schools don’t have a uniform policy for teachers in terms of posting assignments, tests and project due dates, which means some teachers consistently post, while others lag behind or don’t post at all. Teachers may also maintain their own websites separate from the school’s website, which means students have to visit multiple online locations daily in order to gather their homework. These inconsistencies can be time-consuming and confusing, and students often get lost in the technological shuffle.


Too, students frequently assume they can rely on the online system, only to realize later the information they need isn’t there. This leads to texting friends to figure out what’s due, then to Snapchat and to YouTube and to Buzzfeed. Before a student even realizes it, technology has derailed his or her homework on several levels, and the assignment still hasn’t been found.

While technology can enhance learning inside and outside of the classroom, at Green Ivy, we still overwhelmingly advocate for the use of low tech paper planners (as opposed to digital ones). We believe they are the easiest and most effective way to track assignments, tests and long-term projects, plus by physically writing everything down, students are more likely to remember their assignments. Time and again, we’ve seen students initially resistant to this method come into our office incredibly relieved a few months later, when they’ve realized it takes only a couple of minutes a day with their planners to stay on top of their schoolwork.
Here’s three ways to make planner use more effective in the classroom:


1. Create a routine for annotime-750324_640uncing assignments in class. Ana encourages teachers to put information on the board AND announce in class verbally AND put assignments online, and take 1-3 minutes in class where students pull out paper planners and write down their assignments. Those few minutes can potentially save many minutes later on of anguish and stress.


2. Provide time for students to “get back on track.” Sometimes, the most effective way to help students breathe and feel less overwhelmed is to give them 15-20 minutes to clean out their iPad/computer/backpack and write down their assignments.

3. Announce the upcoming week’s homework and tests/quizzes by the previous Friday
. This allows students to be more proactive about their work, especially if they have long commutes to school, intense after school commitments, and/or split their week between two households.


To learn more about the consulting work our founder Ana Homayoun does in schools, please visit her website.