Friday, August 27, 2010

Phones, in School?

"Why not use something in a positive way...that they are bringing with them."  This response taken from this video on CNN.  The video is about phones in schools.  Some schools ban them, some embrace them.  Really, what do you think the right response is.  *Note my pic I drew regarding this topic...and technology in general.  What are your thoughts?


bethstill said...

I just had this talk with my students yesterday when we were going over classroom rules. I asked them how many of them had their cell phones? Some were hesitant to answer until I passionately pleaded my case for why cell phones, which I now refer to as mobile learning devices, should be embraced in schools. They are so useful for doing basic things such as taking pictures. We have ONE digital camera in our school, but almost all of the students have a cell phone. They are great for getting quick feedback from students as well. We don't have clickers so I use PollEverywhere from time to time.

It breaks my heart to know how many hours of instructional time are wasted between students and teachers in struggles over cell phones. My policy states that students can use their phones, but I take time to educate them on proper use and etiquette. There are not too many times they take advantage of having it out. Very rarely do I catch students sneaking in a text. It does happen and a gentle reminder that they need to wait until break or after class is usually all that is needed.

Corey Dahl said...

That is why I would love to be a student in your classroom! Embrace it...don't ban it! Don't fight the "Tsunami" that is technology!

Kevin Zakrzewski said...

As a student (in ESU8, as a matter of fact) whose life, career plans, and passion revolve around technology, I vehemently disagree with a policy of limiting the use of a valid piece of any form of technology solely on the principle that abuse can occur. An argument I hear often is that monitoring students' usage of cell phones would be impossible, and thus they must be disallowed. This argument makes three entirely incorrect assumptions:

1) a school cannot trust its students
2) responsibility cannot be taught
3) the "overseer principle" forced on educational technology works

Education cannot exist without trust. We are taught early on when we begin to do research that if one cannot trust the source of information, one cannot trust that information. The same concept applies to faculty and students. If a student doesn't trust an instructor, how can that student possibly be expected to accept the material that is being taught? Trust, however, is not a one-way street. The very foundation of our education relies solely on a mutual trust between the teacher figure and the student figure. Believe what you like, education cannot and will not take place without that mutual trust. To suggest that students are simply not able to be trusted is to suggest that students, en masse, are incapable of responsibility.

This directly ties into the second assumption. Those who make the argument against cell phone usage tend to look over a student body and unilaterally decide that we, as students, are hopelessly irresponsible. I am not so naive as to believe that it is even plausible to expect every student to use such a powerful tool responsibly all the time. However, through educational sessions designed to teach responsible usage( without being patronizing) combined with a sensible (and more importantly REASONABLE) disciplinary plan, it is logical to assume that a similar percentage of students would be able to make intelligent decisions with their phones as they are with their laptops in a 1:1 environment. We deploy one piece of technology in schools, which is great, but then we still adopt outdated viewpoints and demonize other, equally valuable pieces of technology.

The third assumption applies not only to the cell phone debate, but to the implementation of seemingly any new piece of technology in schools. Laptop programs designed to provide tools necessary to help students receive a better education are, in my opinion, the greatest advancement in education of the 21st century. Unfortunately, these programs invariably are associated with the “all-seeing eye” complex perpetuated by those who do not wish to take the time to help students understand why the tool needs to be reserved for educational purposes. Once more, I will clarify by saying that I am not arguing for stripping the systems of any sort of recording system or monitoring applications. Unfortunately, these are sometimes needed. However, presenting these resources as a scare-tactic to students is an affront to creativity and curiosity, and inhibits a student’s ability to learn about the technology they are using. Even with all of this in mind, one could weigh the sacrifices against the advantages; that is, if this tactic worked to begin with. I have first-hand experience with a diverse group of fellow students and their attitude toward the monitoring software: those who DON’T care that they are being monitored act like they aren’t, and those who DO care that they are being monitored would not abuse it to begin with.

We did not ban the wheel just because it could potentially be used for nefarious purposes. If the last thousand years’ worth of scientists had approached technology with that viewpoint, think of where we would be today. In the grand scheme of things, are we really unwilling to give up a potentially invaluable tool to learning out of the fear it could be abused? We are students of the 21st century – an age of information technology. Teach us responsibility, not restriction.