|With thanks to my (anonymous) (former) student for allowing me to post this...|
Knowing that I am fascinated by educational technology, and the way we often use consumer technologies as educational technologies in schools, this prompted a question from him:
Hmmm...I use my phone to find a lot of information, more than my computer even. Maybe though in study hall high school kids "waste" too much time on it? Or should study hall be their choice of time once in high school? Your time, use it as you want without disrupting the class?
Interesting question for me as a techie teacher! Should students be allowed to use their cell phones as the see fit in school? Maybe just in study hall, where it is unstructured learning time (in theory, at least?) Or, as this teacher has done, should cell phones be banned entirely?
After a little thought, here is how I responded:
Boy, that’s a tough call. I’m torn, honestly.On one hand, I really agree with you—I live my life with my phone in hand today, and I think that’s even more the case for high school (and middle school?) students today. To require them to put their phone away is like asking them to put a piece of their brain away. (I’ve actually seen some research to support this idea: phones and the capability to find the information you need can be conceived of as a kind of artificial intelligence. Basically, students don’t need to know everything anymore…but they need to know how to access the facts they need. Interesting, no?)On the other hand, I also see the distraction factor from glowing screens. If teachers aren’t willing to shift their pedagogy and make the content come to life for their students, I can imagine that the magnetic pull of the phone is a challenge for keeping them focused.I guess—if I’m really pressed on this—I would say I would rather have a both-and: students should have reasonable access to their phones to support their work and learning, but the teachers should also have a responsibility to teach them how to use the tech in ways that will support their work and learning, including changing up their teaching practices.Maybe that’s my pie-in-the-sky, “academic” response to a real life problem in schools today, but that’s where my head is today. ;-)
This is my best thinking for right now, and I'd love to hear your feedback and/or pushback.
To those teaching in K-12 in particular, what do you think? Should students be allowed to use their phones in school? Or is the cost of potential distraction too great?