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Is it Time to Allow Mobile Phone Use for Educational Purposes?

Steve Dembo reports in a recent blog post, Mobiles to Help Learning? High School in UK says OK, that a high school has taken the initiative to allow students to use mobile phones for educational purposes during class time. Does your school already allow student use of phones for educational purposes? If not, Do you think your school(s) are ready for this?

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If you google "cell phones" and "school" you'll come up with a lot of recent articles about schools allowing phones for educational purposes. I've been sending them to my admins and the reply was "I got the links you sent. It's not gonna happen." They've spent so much time refining our no-cell policy (2 demerits if I even see it, 5 demerits if you send/receive text or call) that I think we're too attached to the policy. So now I feel powerless to change anything and also like I need to back off because I'm annoying them with all my push for tech. What's a powerless teacher to do?
I've been trying to find a way to get cell phones into my classroom for feedback, polling and, question and answer activities as an interesting and engaging way to approach the content. I am trying to set it up so that I can have a Twitter feed behind me while I teach and students can use their cell phones to tweet questions or answers to problems. I've worked around the issue of off topic conversations and inappropriate content being tweeted (tidytweet.com) but I'm still working on making sure that the phones are being used strictly for educational purposes and that students aren't just texting or IMing their friends during class.

Until I can be sure that the students are engaging the content instead of trying to take advantage of the situation, it's hard to allow them to be used.
I have had students write notes and doodle in class. I did not consider denying them paper and pencil. When students do group work I have walked around and heard off topic conversations. I did not consider removing groupwork from my class. The key with cell phones is to model good usage and to actively monitor their use. A kid with s cell phone is like a kid in a group. They will need more reminders to stay on task. All this is theorical for me because cell phones are banned in our classes.

Dave Martin said:
I've been trying to find a way to get cell phones into my classroom for feedback, polling and, question and answer activities as an interesting and engaging way to approach the content. I am trying to set it up so that I can have a Twitter feed behind me while I teach and students can use their cell phones to tweet questions or answers to problems. I've worked around the issue of off topic conversations and inappropriate content being tweeted (tidytweet.com) but I'm still working on making sure that the phones are being used strictly for educational purposes and that students aren't just texting or IMing their friends during class. Until I can be sure that the students are engaging the content instead of trying to take advantage of the situation, it's hard to allow them to be used.
I think Colin's point is the one educators need to focus on. It is the same argument I try to use with college faculty who don't let, or want, students to use their phones during class time. No one ever banned paper and pen even though many students wrote, and passed, notes during class. It is obviously a more challenging situation with phones, but teachers need to model it, help to be part of the groups that research and test ways to use them, then have basic classroom management techniques in place to deal with trouble makers and off taskers. The phones our students use now are not the cell phones of 10 years ago. These are full computers at a time when many schools are looking for ways to get 1-to-1 laptop programs and such started in their schools. As Hall Davidson states, the tech students walk around with creates "pockets of potential".

Remember, students are also learing how to use (when it is appropriate, rudeness, etc.) their cell phones by watching their parents use them. Take a look at the adults around you the next time you are out and notice how they are using their phones. Society is currently the model for many of the more impressionable students and based on what I see here in NY, their behavior of the average cell phone user here is not good.
Some helpful resources about Mobile Phones in Education are here
http://www.shambles.net/pages/learning/ict/mobphone
It does help, but digital media esp. smart phones and iPhones can supplement education imparted formally.

I found this link very useful - http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/12689/mobile_phone_technologies/

Smartphones and iPhones bring the 'connect and social learning' which makes it relevant.

I also checked out a web application called Mobl21 (www.mobl21.com) which is about mobile learning/ learning on the 'go'.

-Amanda
I also got this interesting article on how Pencils are a bigger distraction in class than an iPod Touch: http://ipodclassroom.wikispaces.com/

It is quite unanimous that the usage albeit restricted of mobile applns and cell phones are a boon rather than a bane.

Best,

Linda
I think you were possibly referring to this - http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_175007.asp .

- The Pilot Program for Mobl21 which is an educational app that supposedly allows you to review- refresh-reinforce what you learnt in the classroom..
One way of considering it is if you have any sort of off-curriculum days at your school? I'm a first-year ICT teacher (several years in industry).
In my first placement school before Christmas I took the decision to allow pupils use their mobiles on one of these days as an experiment. I must emphasise that the school I was in was a very 'challenging' school, discipline and behaviour being a problem at times.
My argument was that it's a day for pupils to see you experiences and try new things out, and the main themes on the day were operating a business and their views on work so I thought I may as well introduce some topics.
So, I quitely started dropping hints about them researching ideas for their companies online and pointing out that I knew some of them were able to check stuff on the device in their pocket..... (we were in a classroom with no computers).
Yes, I expected a mixed reaction as word filtered out - kids just texting each other, messing about with photos, etc. Until I stood over a group who were reviewing logo designs on two mobile phone screens and comparing opinions. They just saw it as a tool to do some work with.

From my experience that day, they have a place, but only at times. Just like I don't let them have unlimited online or email access in a classroom (partially because they just get distracted - we all do!, I was actually learning how to use diigo.com right now and have somehow ended up reading the Ning forum here :) - it's a case of finding the right opportunities to use them. Even that day, at times, I would just ask them to put the mobiles away for a while and focus on the project on their desk completely.

In short, I definitely see potential (even the fact that pupils are requesting podcast links from me about education topics shows their willingness to use these new tools.
I spotted this article on Verizon's Business tools http://bit.ly/cF8tnt - Mobile Learning in Classroom, Have a look.

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