Cellphones in the Classroom

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

This is an interesting blog post about the use of cell phones in the classroom.

The post, though long, is definitely worth a read. It struck a chord with me, as cellphones are currently banned at my school, and I struggle with this a great deal.

I don’t believe that the best way to deal with the challenges presented by technology is to take that technology away. Due to the rules at my school, I don’t use a cellphone in my classroom, nor do I allow my students to do so. Since this is something that I’ve never experienced, I’m sure I don’t know what I’m missing. I also don’t know how I would deal with concerns over cheating or other inappropriate use of mobile technology.

As part of my challenge to myself beginning in the new year, I may decide to do a lesson involving a cell phone, but I will have to think long and hard about how to implement it.

Watch this space 🙂

  1. Bryan says:

    Thanks for sharing my post!

    The concerns about cheating and appropriate use are valid – especially while most assessment practices forbid students working together or sharing material and resources. There are situations where tests and the types of assessments that require individual effort and appraisal; but increasingly these types of tests or other exams do not reflect real world examinations of skill or knowledge.

    Local superintendent Chris Kennedy has a post about his three recent administrative interviews – a lengthy quote to match the original post, but worth reading ; ) :

    “On the day of my interview, one hour in-advance of its scheduled start, I was given a question. This is standard fare for many interviews. It is a process I had experienced twice before. I was to take the hour to pull together my thoughts and formulate a presentation I would then share in the first 10 minutes of the one-hour interview.

    Time #1 – 2001 – I was given the question, a pen, and some paper. I madly scribbled my thoughts. I used a highlighter to remind myself of the key points. Like doing a timed essay from university, I rushed until the final bell, and emerged to present everything I had pulled from my brain over that hour in those 10 minutes.

    Time #2 – 2007 – A very similar process, but this time I was set up at a computer. I took the question and digitized the process I had done six years earlier. I performed an almost identical process except I did it in PowerPoint. Instead of emerging with highlighted notes, I had organized slides.

    Last October, my interview for the Superintendent position, was different. As soon as I received the question, the first thing I did was re-post the question to Twitter. Only two years previous, I would have probably considered what I was doing as cheating. I was sharing the question with many of the smartest, most thoughtful people I knew, both locally in West Vancouver, but throughout Canada, as well as around the world.

    And over the next hour, 12 people in my 500- (or so) person, Twitter network responded. There were a few quotes, some links to helpful research on the internet and a couple of ”good luck” wishes. I took their thinking, blended it with my own, and put together a presentation. I concluded that the Board was not as interested in what I thought, as they were in that I could find the best thinking, synthesize these ideas, contextualize them for our location, and share them in a thoughtful way – all in a timely matter.

    My 10 minutes was not about what I knew – it was about the best thinking of my network, personalized for our very unique and specific context. Networks matter. Of course, nobody had any responsibility to share, but they did.”

    Best of luck in bringing tech inside your school’s firewall! Blogging is a great start!



    • Thanks for your post (and comment) I enjoyed reading it and it gave me a lot to think about.
      I think the big hurdle is that teachers aren’t used to writing only test questions that involve analysis as opposed to memorization (and are therefore exempt from mobile device cheating). Sure, most teachers include some questions like this on their tests, but most do not create entire tests composed of those questions.
      Like the superintendant in your example, students rely on networks- and will in the future… why aren’t we preparing them for that?
      My principal is a great guy who loves to see us experiment, I’m sure he’ll allow for an isolated incident of cell-phone use in the classroom… and maybe that will lead to change? Who knows… I can only try!

  2. Michael G. says:

    I hear what you’re saying, but do you think that having cell phones in the classroom would improve student learning?

    Something to ponder over though.

    • Since cellphones in the classroom aren’t something I have personal experience with, I can’t really be sure. However, I can’t help but think that not allowing mobile devices isn’t really preparing students for the real world (Bryan makes a good point about this in the previous comment).
      If tests are such that students can cheat on them, are they really the kind of tests that are preparing them for real life? As a teacher, if I don’t know something, I research it (often online) and find my answer. I don’t have to have everything memorized to be a good teacher. The same goes for doctors, or lawyers, or pretty much any other profession.
      To me, this means breaking some habits. Writing tests that are such that I student couldn’t cheat with a mobile device even if they tried…. which means writing questions that involve analysis as opposed to memorization. Certainly tough, but definitely worth it.
      What are your thoughts on it? Feel free to disagree with me 🙂

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