Mr. Gangi Introducing The New Tablet Police







On January 31st the IB economics class led by Mr John Gangi at UNIS Hanoi introduced a new system to their “little economy.”

Now the students are assigned jobs like the barista who gives our coffee and tea to students in the class, the note-taker, Vietnamese teachers, exercise coach and, most importantly, the tablet police. Of course each worker has a set wage and a task to fulfil each class, yet among all those regular workers there is the tablet police. They are the black sheep in the class, they are anonymous, only Mr Gangi knows who they are and their job is to keep an eye on their classmates and make sure that they stay on task in class.

How do they do that? Well, they observe. From every corner of the class, they look at your screen and if you are off task, they will report back to Mr Gangi and you may be in big trouble, if it is your first time, you will get a warning, second time- you can have your tablet taken away for a substantial amount of time and you may have to pay a fee worth 800 gangeros!

Did the consumers go too far this time? Is our society as risk? Will the government intervention improve or worsen our academic performance? Here is an exclusive interview with Mr Gangi, the leader, or should I say dictator of the Economics class in grades 11 to 12.

What made you come up with this idea?

-Well obviously the tablet does provide benefits for students and education but also for many students it is an issue. It interferes with education. Obviously for some it will help keep organized, it is definitely a tool for that, but for others it actually gets in the way of what we’re trying to do- just like other de-merit goods (econ alert- market failure- a demerit good is a good that brings negative externalities to society when it is being consumed) it hurts the person using it but also the class as a whole. Unfortunately, students in general have ways of keeping things from teachers, and hiding things on their tablet, so how do we combat that? So I need to have my own methods to keep you guys honest.

-So you are doing this for us, for our own good?

-Yes obviously, we are all supposed to be doing certain things, and these tables, the reason why we have these, and the school invested in these tablets is for the benefits in them. You gotta ask yourselves- “Am I using my time appropriately?” There is a lot of, you know, I hear a lot of students say “Oh my God, I have so much work to do” he says in a mocking tone.

So you know, often you gotta ask well, what have you been doing with your time in class? And maybe if you spent more time focusing on what you should be focusing on in class, then maybe you wouldn’t have so much work on your shoulders.

More or less I think I just want to use this as way to start a conversation about how we could make better use of these tablets.

I think we need to look at this whole thing and kind of, figure it out. I think also socially, everyone is buried in their tablets- I don’t know if it’s a good thing.

-How did you choose your tablet police?

Well it doesn’t really matter how I chose the tablet police, ‘cos I have multiple tablet police that, none of them know who the other is, so If I chose one person and if they’re telling me certain things, and I have another person who is sitting right next to them, if their information doesn’t correlate, then obviously their information is not exactly correct. So I have to look back at the data and see if there are any problems.

I know this has become a problem in this school, misuse of tablets. And I know because I see it in the student’s faces- that they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

We’re not talking about little things here and there, we’re talking about students, for example, like anything, they have a hard time organizing their time and someone that is addicted to video games, when they have that in front of them, they can’t control themselves form doing that. I think that’s a problem. The question is how do we solve it?

‘It’s a little psychological experiment. It’s a little bit of fun, c’mon we can all admit’ He says while grinning.

The problem is that you should be policing yourself, not the school having to do that. It should be more of a culture I think. This is not the only problem here, but all around the world.

In the end I think it should make a better world for you guys’.

I decided to get some scoop from students in Mr Gangi’s economics class, see what they think of the new rule.

Student Inteview (name of the student has been withheld upon request)

What do you think about the new rule?

-Personally I think it’s okay, obviously sometimes I go off task, but I don’t do it so much, to a point that would affect me, so I don’t really care about it that much.

How do you think your classmates will react to this?

-‘I think some of them, will probably cry’ – she laughs.

‘Yeah because there are some gamers in class that game a lot, but the majority I think usually stay on task so- it’ll be okay for most of us’

-Do you think this could improve anything?

I think it will help in Econ, but sometimes I feel that even if we’re on task, we don’t really listen, we still don’t pay attention in class so that might not have an impact.

-What do you think would be the percentage of people off task in class?

Roughly it would be, umm, sporadically, it would be 60% but rarely, it would be the other 40%, that’s what I think.

-How do you think other teachers can improve this situation?

‘Well obviously manic time hasn’t helped’- she laughs.

‘I actually don’t really know because the tablet is critical, so you can’t really take it away, and if you limit it we will just go home and game like crazy, I don’t really know how to… well oh yeah, I think we should have more group work. It is more social and it creates a better experience in class.’

So, is this a good thing? Have we gone too far with Facebook and gaming in class? Can you police yourself or is the tablet police necessary? These questions can only be answered by you. So far, the reports that Mr Gangi received recently are not good, almost half of the class does inappropriate things in class, and that is an issue. Not only in economics but in other classes, therefore UNIS is seeking ways to combat that, to help us, students use the school time and tablets wisely.