Since mid summer, I have had a running search in Twitter to follow the postings about cell phones in schools. After reading the comments for two months now, the only observation that I can make is that the ‘camps’ are clearly divided.
In some educational organizations, there is a centrally determined policy that is followed by all schools. In other cases, the use of cell phones (or not), is determined at the local school level. Approaches typically fall into two main categories – cell phones are banned, or cell phones are permissible during non class times. A small number of schools allow unrestricted use.
The opinion of teachers is equally divided. Based on my Twitter observations, there seems to be growing interest in the use of cell phones as a mobile learning tool. While it is easy to argue that a cell phone is more likely to be a distraction in the classroom, teachers are finding effective ways to integrate their use in curriculum delivery. My personal view is that cell phones, and other mobile technologies, can be used as effective learning tools. As with many things in education, it all comes down to context, appropriate use and finding the ways in which the device can be used in the learning environment in a positive manner. Teachers willing to take a chance to explore a new approach or integrate a new tool are often rewarded with success.
Reading and Resources
Journal Star: Should cell Phones be allowed in schools?
Tech Learning: Cell Phones Welcome Here
K-12 Cellphone Projects
Slideshow: K-12 Mobile Learning
Ed Week: Emerging Mobile Technologies for the K-12 Classroom
The Mobile Learner blog.
EduCause: Handheld and Mobile Computing Resources
Text message based polling.
ISTE Books: Toys to Tools – Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education
Your opinion? Where do you stand? Leave a comment, send an email or post on Twitter.
One thought on “Cell Phones as a Learning Tool”
When I was in grade school, calculators were banned because we had to learn to do math in our heads, the same way our teachers had learned math. Now, in school, we teach kids how to use calculators as a tool, to solve more complex problems than we could otherwise.
I see the cell phone debate in a similar light. Many teachers and administrators ban cell phones (and music/media players) because they want students to learn the same way in which they did, without the ‘distraction’ of technology and gadgets. I think as educators we need to consider these items as tools, and find ways to enhance students’ learning by using them to solve different kinds of problems in our classrooms.
How many successful business-people don’t have a cellphone of some sort right now? Consider the fact that in the future personal electronic devices will become less expensive (and therefore more prevalent) and even more capable than they are currently. This is the future we need to prepare our students for. Banning cellphones and media players is not the answer. Teaching kids how to properly and appropriately use them is.