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Should smartphones be allowed during school hours?

3 years ago

3 experts and 2 parents have answered

Joanne Mallon writer
Joanne Mallon Author, parent, blogger Brighton, The City of Brighton and Hove, UK

I had a Facebook message from my daughter today: ‘Something great happened’. When I asked what this might be the reply came ‘Can’t tell you, it’s history’. This wasn’t a reference to the event having happened in the past, but a reference to the fact that she was messaging me via Blackberry from History class at school.

My day was also enlivened by a Facebook picture of her packed lunch. I didn’t need to see it as I’d made it myself that morning. So what is my child doing on Facebook in school hours?

From a primary school where all phones were collected and kept in a box on the teacher’s desk, the rules at secondary school seem completely different. No texting in class is still the law, but phone use is allowed in certain lessons and at break times.

Apart from Facebook updates, could there be a positive use for smartphones during school times? And are school right to allow this?

Schools in Brighton have been using smartphones since 2011. Blatchington Mill School in Hove has in the past used them as part of a project on QR codes. It’s part of a city-wide project aimed at preparing children for the future and particularly the workplace. As the workplace adjusts itself to the phenomenon of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) schools are becoming BYOD too.

And Government research into behaviour in Scottish schools recommended that children be allowed to use smartphones and iPads in the classrooms.

It’s thought that allowing tech like this in the classroom will help to engage pupils more, since it’s making use of resources they’re already familiar with. I can see the many benefits, though I wonder where it leaves families who can’t or don’t want to supply these devices. And I think most lessons don’t benefit from Facebook updates.

3 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Justin Morris expert
Justin Morris Dad of 1 works digital education London, United Kingdom

I've got to say I find the responses quite worrying. The effectiveness of any device (from a piece of paper to a computer) as a learning tool is clearly dependent on the user or the person instructing the user. A piece of paper can be used as a paper aeroplane, a canvas, a noughts and crosses board, to write love letters on or to make notes about the lesson on. Surely, it's the responsibility of the student to use the tool appropriately and of the educator to ensure the lesson is of sufficient quality to engage with the student.

Depriving young people of a device that can potentially connect them to huge amount of information based on fact and original thought is like stopping them from going to a library. As is the case at the library, it is the users choice regarding what they would like to do with the resource, flick through the pages of 50 Shades of Grey or read the dictionary.

Smartphones are extremely common communication tools which give young people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to engage with learning resources and apps that are developed for specific educational purposes - If an educator cannot use this resource effectively then maybe the finger should be pointed at that person rather than the device?

My suggestion is that people involved in delivering education and parents need to adapt their methods to bring themselves up to date with a digital world that the audience (children and young adults) have simply grown up with. When enough people who have a role in educating young people are able to structure learning in a variety of engaging ways and think about the most appropriate learning tool for the audience in relation to a given subject, then the educational potential of a connected world will actually be realised. At the moment I'm afraid it seems there's too many people who don't fully understand and as a result just say 'ban it.'

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Terry Doherty
Terry Doherty

Have you ever tried to video tape your child's ballet recital or baseball game? Did you feel like you didn't really "see" the event or truly enjoy the accomplishment because you were focused on the screen? Then why would it be different for kids on cellphones and iPads in a classroom?

Do they have potential. Absolutely. But QR codes are being replaced by other technology - like Bump. So while it is important to help them navigate the tools, it needs to be at a macro level where they understand this is a "tool" not a "toy" and learn how to evolve. Case in point: there is still a place for the typing classes we all took ... they call it keyboarding, but it is still, at its core, learning how to use a qwerty set of keys.

0 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
expert answer
Roberto Catanuto expert
Roberto Catanuto Teacher, Club Instructor CH
Education expert

My school currently banned them at all. I agree as long as they're useless for the ongoing activity in classrooms. But I'd favor them to be admitted again as soon as they might be useful or necessary for some sort of mobile-based learning.

Just to put an example here: is a super-cool Android app allowing for almost inexpensive physics experiments at school.

Worth watching !

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Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Richard Taylor expert
Richard Taylor Father of 4 boys & IT Consultant Bushmills, GB
Technology expert

Absolutely not! The pupils should be taught proper usage, including times and places where it is appropriate, and when not. To enforce this, its simple, just have a school policy that any child who is caught using their phone during lesson times (unless in a grave or dire family emergency as determined by the school headmaster/headmistress) will have the phone confiscated and smashed to pieces by sledge-hammer at the next school assembly.

After the first few phones each year are made inoperable, the pupils will soon toe the line and use them only at break and lunch times, and learn self-restraint too.


0 Reply ( 2 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago

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