I do not think that cell phones should be banned from schools, but I do think that their use needs to be monitored. Like any technology tool, misuse or abuse can lead to problems. We are living in times where students having access to a cell phone is a given. I agree with students having access to phones for safety reasons and for communicating with home. However we do also need to explicitly teach our children and students about proper cell phone etiquette there is a time and place to use your cell phones.
Besides these obvious reasons for allowing students to have access to cell phones there are many educational benefits for students having access to phones. Cell phones have much wider spread uses than talking and texting. They should have a place in the classroom like other educational tools like computers, video cameras and calculators. In fact many cell phones have the capability of replacing all three of these technologies. Most educators see cell phones as nuisances and liabilities instead they can act as powerful instructional and learning tools if used correctly.
Students have to ability to work on their literacy skills by tweeting during class presentations or while watching video presentations. Tweeting allows students to provide immediate feedback to their peers and immediately share their feelings and reactions. Since tweets have a maximum length students must practice the great skill of summarizing. By using the camera feature available on most cell phones students can become instant videographers and historians who record history and events as they happen. They can almost instantaneously share these images with their friends online, their parents at home or to the class website. These images can also form the storyboard for a video production that can also be entirely shot with a camera phone. These images could be used in the school yearbook or on the daily ‘What’s Happening’ at Smith High School.
Students can also take photos of lab experiments and create virtual lab reports that they could share online with other students around the globe. Flickr and YouTube are two great sites for this type of application. Educators also have the opportunity to create quizzes and polls and have students provide answers via their cell phones. Such quiz sites include Poll Everywhere, Wiffiti and Phonevite. Uses for this could be the daily science or math question or as simple as a review of what was done in class today. Students also have the opportunity to share work done in class with parents or sick classmates by taking video or images with their phones.
Students could also link up to the class blog, wiki or website and read their notes while traveling home on the bus or while waiting in the line up for the cafeteria. Students could use web features like Google Calendar and have their daily planner in the palm of their hands. This will eliminate the problem that arises when a student misplaces their traditional daily planner. I would almost bet that students are much more likely to keep track of their cell phone. Applications like Google Calendar will allow students to work on their organizational and time management skills.
These are just a few of the educational uses of cell phones that I have come across in my research. I think that we have to look beyond the obvious reasons for allowing students to have cell phones in school, safety and timely communication with home, and start thinking of cell phones as yet another valuable educational tool.
Kolb, L. (2009). From toy to tool: cell phones in learning. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from http://www.cellphonesinlearning.com/
Lynne, B. (2007, March 11). Fair cell phone use in school. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from http://teachingtechnology.suite101.com/article.cfm/fair_cell_phone_use_in_schools
Nebraska Department of Education. (n.d.). Educational uses of cell phones. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from http://www.nde.state.ne.us/TECHCEN/EducationalusesforCellPhones.htm