Nora – Week 10

I found an interesting article on twitter called “Cellphones are a Distraction” by┬áTom Whitby.

The article is about the contentious cellphone policies that schools are facing today. Whitby talks about distractions: the PA system blaring announcements, the fire drill, the blood drive, the field trip, etc. His argument: teachers and students learn to deal with distractions everyday. Why would it be so bad for students to use their cellphones in class? Smartphones are essentially mini computers and can enhance the students learning. There are innumerable apps on smartphones that can be valuable to students’ understanding. Whitby says that this cellphone debate is about control and educators/administrators need to catch up with technology, recognize the benefit, and teach students how to effectively use it.

I agree with Whitby as I feel that smartphones could be useful, however, the problem is not everyone has a smartphone. Smartphones are expensive and by allowing them in school as a tool, many of our low-socio-econmic-status students would be left behind.

In addition, it would be difficult to quiz twenty students who have the answers in their pockets. I have many students who can text without looking and a few who has mastered texting inconspicuously within a pocket or even a boot.

4 Replies to “Nora – Week 10”

  1. Nora, I agree with you that this is a sticky situation. There are so many positives for having a smartphone at your fingertips, but I feel for every positive people have there is an equal negative to go along with it. In the economy we are n now, it is not possible for every student to have a smartphone when their family is struggling to put food on the table or stay in their home. If we want students to use computers, I think we need to provide them with the computers, not the phones. Phones can do some pretty amazing things…things that are conducive to learning and things that can hinder it (just like computers). I think phones should stay out of the classroom, there are just too many gray areas for teachers to have to mine on their own which could take away from the learning.

  2. There are differing opinions around the topic of cell phones at school. I agree with Whitby that we can manage the ‘rules’ around cell phones, and that smart phones can be a powerful learning tool. But, as you say, what about the kids that don’t have them? Some folks think mobile learning devices are the answer to the digital divide. http://www.districtadministration.com/article/mobile-devices-classroom#0 (BTW–Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal) retweeted this post yesterday!)

  3. I often think back to my high school days when cell phones were just popping up everywhere. It was easy to get distracted by texting another friend. I cannot imagine how different high school is today with the amount of technology available to the students. I am glad that this is not yet an issue in the younger grades, but I am thinking it is only a matter of time. I agree that smartphones would be a wonderful tool to allow students to use for academic purposes. Managing a large group of students to use the phones at an appropriate time for appropriate things would be tricky (especially when the students are so crafty at hiding their phones). Interesting topic, thanks for sharing!

  4. Pros and Cons…like with anything else. I know when I was doing my teaching internship I often had my digital camera with me for collecting evidence of my practice, but wished could afford an iPhone to streamline what I had in my pockets. Now I use the iPhone for so much in my teaching. I can get copies of documents from other teachers right there and then for printing and saving later. I can bring student work to collaborators without students’ having to part with the work.

    I’ve seen some in-class uses of the cell phone to text answers like http://www.polleverywhere.com/
    Using polleverywhere or other “audience” response methodologies might bolster interest from students, but like Sue, I had the same thought about the inequity.

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