An expensive means of distraction

New Apple AirPods are a sneaky way to play music in class

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After Apple released their new wireless earbuds, AirPods, students have been utilizing their discrete design to listen to music during class.

“You can’t see them under my hair so its really easy to wear them” said one female student on the condition of anonymity.

The Apple AirPods make it “easier and less complicated” than traditional techniques. Before AirPods, students would “thread their headphones through their shirt or a sleeve,” she said.

“I think we might be seeing a spike because the AirPods seem very popular these days and they’re easy to hide under hair” said Todd Maxman, a social studies teacher. He agreed “it’s been a problem with earbuds for quite some time.”

At $160 for a pair, it’s a rather expensive means of distraction. “I just don’t think enough people have access to them yet for it to be more widespread” said the anonymous female student.

“I use them during class sometimes,” said José Chavez, a senior. “Usually in classes where I’m not doing directed work” he said. He explained that it’s good for silent work times “when I’m doing busy work that doesn’t require my ears or attention.”

A male student who described his AirPod usage as “in at least half my classes” speaking on the condition of anonymity, concurred. “It’s easier now, but kids have always done it.” He said teachers either don’t care or are “totally oblivious.”

Andy Horne, health teacher, said that while the temptation is always there, it hasn’t been an issue in his classroom. “Most [students] are respectful in taking them out of their ears when class starts,” he said.

“Like any piece of technology, there is a temptation for distraction during class or perhaps doing homework,” he continued.

He explained that given his background as a health teacher, he is more concerned about the “noise level from some of the students and their understanding of potential long-term hearing loss.”

While Maxman called the behavior “discouraging” he was thankful that “a gentle reminder about being present in class is usually enough for me to get students to unplug.”

“I think as a society we’re having difficulty with the constant distractions of our phones,” a problem he admits he is not immune to. Just as phones aren’t conducive to a productive learning environment “listing to your tunes while someone is trying to teach, to connect with you is an action that cannot be interpreted as anything but insulting and disrespectful.”

He added, “students might not intend disrespect,” and that “there’s a range of intentions behind student’s behavior in this area.”

“Depending on the lesson, you don’t miss much” said the anonymous male of how AirPods affect the learning experience.

Maxman explained that teachers often spend a significant amount of time and energy planning lessons and that “placing barriers of any kind between authentic interactions is going to limit understanding of the material, at a minimum, and put limits on connections with fellow human beings, which I think is a bigger problem.”

While technology continues to change the educational landscape, it can create problems such as plagiarism, and in this case, facilitates “checking out” of class, according to the anonymous female.

“Teachers spend a lot of time thinking about the emotional state of students,” said Maxman. “Perhaps this is an area where students can pay a little more attention to how their behavior impacts their teachers on an emotional level.”

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