I became inspired to write this post in response to a friend of mine’s previous post on the usage of cell phones (and technology) within schools. Nick McDaniels and I attended Marquette University’s College of Education together, served as TAs together, and worked on the student council for the college together. I have the utmost respect for McDaniels as a friend and educator. However, I have to completely disagree with his post “How Technology in the Classroom is Destroying Education” on the Marquette Educator as the alumni blogger for the year. While I understand his frustrations about the usage of cell phones and students always trying to get away with anything or deceiving a teacher about using them, my response would be the timeless line – “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
I have come to like the blog The Innovative Educator and Lisa Nielsen’s writing style. Her recent post “Banned in School” is a fabulous look at the things that are banned in schools that really shouldn’t be banned at all. Take a look at her slideshow because it really opens your eyes to why school’s are banning various programs; cell phones making the list.
So, quit trying to stop students from using phones in the classroom, but rather transform them into a teaching tool that will be less a distraction and more as an instructional tool. Using cell phones, especially those with smart features, data packages, and WiFi, permits students to have a wealth of knowledge available at their finger tips.
- Have a question? Google it.
- Want an extra credit assignment? Here’s one that I did: as we studied Morse Code with my 8th graders, they had to send a text using Morse Code and see what the responses would be like. This then transformed in a new direction with writing: Is Morse Code a forgotten language?
Gather realtime feedback about comprehension using Poll Everywhere and other online polling programs. This instantaneous feedback can provide you with real information about your students and could change the course of how you are teaching something in a minute.
Aside from the enhancements in the classroom, the K-12 Edition of the 2010 Horizon Report states: “people in all parts of the world to look to mobile computing platforms as their device of choice, as they are often far cheaper than desktop or laptop computers.” As educators, isn’t it our task to be providing more opportunities for learning in the real world? Shouldn’t we be preparing our students for life outside of the school building, day, year? This is the time to make the difference and educate our students.
Those evil cell phones? Use them. Bring them into your classroom. Make them a part of your instruction. Don’t look back, but look forward!