My latest reading has been to do with the issue of cellphones in schools. There is a strong argument that allowing them into class is a major distraction, and that they should be banned. There is an equally strong case for not only allowing them into class, but incorporating their use in lessons. I did a little digging around and unearthed a few interesting articles on the subject. The one I connected with most was this one by The Innovative Educator.
Additionally, teachers need to experience, understand the educational value, and be comfortable with technology tools before using them to enhance teaching and learning. If we are exposing teachers to ways in to incorporate cells into the classroom, we are providing that teacher and classroom with tremendous power and access and an ability to model for students how to use a cell phone as a learning tool.
This is very true. If we are aware of the potential drawbacks of this kind of approach – the most common one mentioned is cheating on tests – then we look for a workaround to this particular issue, such as no cellphones during tests. The idea that students being able to communicate more freely with each other is surely a positive outcome in most cases. Sure, there will always be the exception where a student abuses or misuses the privilege. That happens now with internet access, but we still allow it in schools. Not in my current school, but I envisage in many, there may be an issue of cost. Cost of the actual phone, cost of the airtime, etc. that may discriminate against some students. We don’t need the latest all singing all dancing cellphones for them to be useful. Read this post by Cool Cat Teacher as to how she begins the school year.
My feeling is that we need to be a bit open-minded about this. Using calculators is now expected, and taught. Not that many years ago it was considered quite radical, if not cheating, to allow students to use them in a mathematics exam.