So once again I have the “privilege” of working with Danna Schoff on this blog as we debate the pros and cons of having cellphones in the classroom. For the sake of this argument, I will be arguing for allowing cellphones in the classroom. While this is not necessarily the side I might normally pick in the debate… but as the Rolling Stones said, “you cant always get what you want.”
I think that cell phones provide a wonderful opportunity in the classroom. We live in a world where technology is at the centre of everything that we do. If we do not use these tools to our advantage we are doing a disservice to our students. So much of our teaching revolves around the use of technology. Based on my experiences in the classroom there are only so many laptop carts in a school and lots of classrooms that are wanting to use them. Having students use their cellphones is a great way to quickly have them complete a small research component of an assignment.
Macleans recently published an article providing some examples of how cell phones and other technology can provide a direct benefit to the learning process in the classroom. Many students lives revolve around their cellphones and can become very uncomfortable when they don’t have it. I think it important that the classroom teacher is the one who decides what level of cellphone use is acceptable and when it is acceptable in the classroom. There are absolutely times where there should not be any cellphones in the classroom, but I don’t think an outright ban is a solution.
Another very powerful feature that teachers are able to use when students have their cellphones is to quickly and effectively complete formative assessment. There is a multitude of applications available to both teachers and students that allow for very good feedback in a way that students will enjoy and not necessarily think the teacher is figuring out what they know. I have used things like Kahoot and Quizlet very effectively in my classroom. If the students had to get a laptop from the cart each time we completed a formative assessment it would be very slow and would likely defeat the purpose. By allowing cell phones, the students can very quickly pull their phone out of their pocket and they are ready to go almost instantly.
So while I don’t think this debate is crystal clear, I think there is enough evidence that supports allowing cellphones in the classroom that I am on board with it.
I really had to reach for this connection… but here it is! The Hannah Montana theme songs kind of fits for this. By allowing cellphones in the classroom you really do get the Best of Both Worlds!