Again, our last debate is one of the very controversial topics. Some approve the use of cell phones in the classroom, and they have very valid reasons as outlined by Skyler & Alyssa, and others do not, which has been nicely highlighted by Jill & Tarina. A Common Sense Media survey found that that 80 percent of schools have a cell phone policy, with 25% of teachers (mostly high school teachers) finding the policy difficult to implement and 66% finding it easy to follow.
Cell phones can easily be the greatest students’ distraction tool in the classroom, not only for the users of cell phones but also for their classmates. For example, teachers have to be interrupted to ask cellphone holders to stop distracting others. Another issue with cell phones in class is that some students may use it for cheating, and other students may use it for bullying, especially with cameras being everywhere and too small to see. In addition, cell phones typically increase the amount of time each student spends alone, which reduces the social experience with classmates (albeit may increase it with virtual classmates).
However, Cell phones can have advantages in the classroom. First, Cell phones can be an important factor for equity in the classroom. Duncan Clark believes that mobile phone usage will be “the single most important factor in increasing literacy on the planet.” As he explains, “Every child is massively motivated to learn to text, post and message on mobiles. The evidence shows that they become obsessive readers and writers through mobile devices.” Kalyn and Nataly debate
Cell phones can be used by students to access educational apps (such as Kahoot). Cell phones allow students to conduct research related to the material they study through, for example, access and search of social media content as well as access to their learning network. Building such a network is very important for the educational process of students. Group discussions and peer-teaching during and after class time can be the best learning times for students. Another example is when students use cell phones to access different media (videos, articles, libraries, digital textbooks) related to class topics. Cell phones also provide general apps that help students take note, and efficiently manage their time/ projects. The office of educational technology summarized this by “Digital learning tools can offer more flexibility and learning supports than traditional formats. Educators are better able to personalize and customize learning experiences to align with the needs of each student.”
In the situation that the teacher/ Professor is following active learning methodologies, cell phones can be an integral part of the classroom. Cell phones can be used by students, for example, to answer MCQ quizzes. They can also be used as clickers to provide feedback to professors in a higher education classroom. Integrating cell phones in the classroom can enhance the learning experience and creates a functional and personalized learning environment.
However, all of the above advantages for the use of cell phones in the classroom are conditional on the appropriate use of students of this technology. Skyler & Alyssa’s motto ‘Have a Plan, Not a Ban.’ is really a pivotal point to this issue. I guess our plan should consider the following two conditions:
The first condition is to incorporate different learning and pedagogy strategies in lesson/ lecture design to maximize the advantages of using technology in the classroom. As I mentioned in the previous blog, We should look at our pedagogy goals and decide accordingly. We should ask ourselves why we choose to allow students to use a cell phone in the classroom? What problem do we think it solves? We have to take a closer look at the pedagogy and try to find out the pedagogical concerns we might have. Depending on the issues discovered, we would then choose to allow (or not) cell phones in the classroom.
Another condition before allowing cell phones in the classroom is to teach students how to use technology (whether cell phone or social networks or any other technology in fact) in the classroom. Such educational endeavours become essential as these technologies may affect students’ safety and privacy. I believe if our students are taught to be responsible digital citizens, the advantage of technology in the classroom will outweigh its disadvantages.