Principals Trying out Cell Phones

22 01 2008

Dean Shareski passes on an email from a local principal:

I’m sure we are not going insane, but some would probably disagree. Carla and I tried something new and, well a little bit rebellious today. We invited the grade 8/9 ELA class/students to bring their cell phones into class (if they didn’t have one we used mysask for text). Our goal, using cell phones for learning. Our objectives, appropriate use of cell phones (manners and ethics), using the calendar/scheduling, using text to discuss literature (lit circles), tracking progress and assignments/projects, and engaging the new learner. Guess what, it worked like a charm and the kids are peeing themselves with enthusiasm. Welcome to Web 2.0!!!! I needed to share.

Awesome stuff. Damien‘s remarks in the comments are also worth reading:

I like that this principal is looking into educational applications, but I think the most important takeaway here is that s/he’s having a discussion about mobile phone manners and ethics. Although I think it’s very rude when students text during class, I honestly don’t think many of them think much of it, and probably think we teachers blow the issue out of proportion (to be fair, some do). I applaud this principal for having this dialogue outside of a punitive context and for at least considering the educational and organizational possibilities.

Wow. Educators having a dialogue with students and discussing mobile phone manners and ethics? Might those students might get insights into the acceptable use of mobile technologies (useful for the rest of their lives, no less) that they wouldn’t otherwise get from a blanket ban on mobiles at school? Great work… 🙂

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5 responses

22 01 2008

So what is the function of a no-texting in class rule? Is it just like no-talking – designed to push the students to focus more on the material being covered?

Of course, students will always talk in class (and this is potentially more disruptive to their classmates and the teacher – it can get frustrating when you have something important to say and people aren’t paying attention) so maybe it’s more a matter of timing.

It’s ok to talk/text/IM during this kind of work but not during that perhaps.

24 01 2008
Leonard Low

A blanket “no-texting in class” rule is an absolute restriction that takes discretion and judgment out of the hands of both the students in the class and their teacher. There are no classrooms these days that are strictly “no talking”: indeed the best teachers allow time for group discussion, discussion in pairs, and collaboration when appropriate.

Use of mobile devices in classrooms, then, should be governed by the same moderation and common sense as talking. There are times when using a mobile device in a classroom may be appropriate, or even encouraged; and there are times when (and ways of) using a mobile device is discourteous and disruptive.

A blanket ban teaches students nothing about appropriate use and judgment. It just provides a “limit” they will often want to test and push. Far better to instill and promote courtesy, etiquette, safety and common sense. Those who show bad judgment subsequently will then be shown disapproval by their peers, instead of being seen as “cool” for pushing or subverting what may be seen as an arbitrary and unfair rule.

25 01 2008
Dr. Coop

I think that’s great, but I find myself spending too much time in class teachings students about technology and how to appropriately use it when all I really want to do is just use it. I can’t wait for when they just show up already knowing or when we start to make technology classes mandatory.

31 01 2008

I love the idea of using mobile technology to get students discussing school subjects in class. I’d like to see some practical ways of doing this. Anyone else tried this? Any problems?

3 05 2008

As a high school teacher in a building with a “zero tolerance” policy on cell phone use (that theoretically extends to staff!), I am sick and tired of being the “cell phone police.” I think a better approach is to teach etiquette by simply requesting, as movie theaters do, that students turn off their cell phones at the appropriate time.

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