Cell phones! They are everywhere...or are they? This past week in my EDTC400 class we had a very interesting, head scratcher conversation about the great cell phone debate in classrooms. Should we allow students to be able to use their cell phones in the classroom? There were three sides to this debate; yes, no and only in high schools. My opinion? Read more to find out!
100% Yes they should be allowed!
Many people who are against cell phones in the classroom may or may not fully understand all the pros to using cell phones in class. It's not about the actual device, but how the device is utilized. Like many things used in classrooms, its not about the actual resource. We could plant a computer in front of a student without any instructions or direction on how to use it. But what exactly are the expectations for students if we were to do this? How do we encourage learning if we don't actually encourage learning? The same goes for cell phones. It's all about using these tools in efficient ways to expand student learning and engagement. Students are going to be on their phones not matter what. They will be using it in their hoodie, under their desk, in the bathroom or in the halls. It will only be a matter of time before they get caught, an argument breaks out and not only are the teacher and the student involved disrupted but also the rest of the class. Instead, as educators we need utilize and adopt cell phones in ways that expand on student learning and help bring 21st century resources into the classroom. Some of the pros that can be considered when using cell phones in the classroom are the ability to use educational games/apps, utilize digital platforms for lessons, supplement lessons with digital material and provide easy access to more information. These ideas come from the article Should Cell Phones Be Allowed in Classrooms? As well, this article presents readers from the opposite perspective. Distractions, cyber-bullying, cheating and disconnection from face-to-face activities are many cons provided. However, in my opinion, many other tools can also cause these sort of problems. Take paper for example. Paper can be used for doodling or drawing causing a distraction and taking away from student learning. Students can write notes to other students that could be deemed as bullying. Small pieces of paper can be written on, crumpled up and then used to cheat on assignments, tests, exams, etc. Lastly, being immersed in whatever activity involves paper can also cause a disconnect from face-to-face activities. My point is, is that anything and everything can be a distraction. Educators have laid out student expectations when it comes to what we do with paper. The same needs to happen with cell phones! They can be a great resource for students to quickly search information up, used to engage students with technology and help students learn what it means to be a digital citizen. As educators, we can find ways to help out students learn with their cell phone, and if they don't have one students can pair up, and practice their collaboration and team work skills. I am 100% for cell phones in the classroom. There is nothing more relevant in our students lives than connecting their precious cell phones to their learning.
I want to share an interesting point that was raised in the debate that really got me thinking. One of my classmates brought up their experiences with cell phones in the classroom as a high school student and the biggest thing they struggled with was consistency from teachers. Some teachers didn't care, some were quite the opposite and would take it away if they saw it and some had strategies implemented in the classroom to help reduce distraction and promote them for student learning. Even as a university student I find this very relatable. There are some classes where cell phones are prohibited but some that enjoy using them as a tool for learning. Consistency and routine definitely play a major part in helping students eliminate distractions and unwanted behaviour. This is why I believe school culture and classroom expectations should be discussed and the collaboration of the community working together to combat inconsistency. Students wouldn't play the, "well this teachers lets me do this" card. Is the answer to this challenge to just say no straight across the board? If one classroom is all in for cell phones because there has been expectations in place for when/how to use cell phones in learning spaces but then the next classroom has a no cell phone rule because they really have been too distracting and expectations have not been met, where is the line? What do you think would be a good solution to resolving this debate? Do you allow cell phones in the classroom? I would love to hear from you in the comments!
Well folks, that was the end of my yay for cell phones debate! I want to leave you with this quote from a very powerful article written by the Star Editorial Board, A blanket ban on cell phones in class would not be smart.
"Smartphones are powerful technology that we have put in the hands of our children. We have a responsibility to teach them how to use it wisely. Schools need to play their part."
Thanks for reading!