During my internship this past semester two of the biggest “issues” that teachers seemed to be facing were facebook and cell phones. Students would often go on facebook during class if they were at a computer and many teachers complained of continually catching students text messaging on their phones in class. By the end of the semester facebook had been blocked on all student computers but cell phones were still an “issue”.
I’ve been reflecting on this for some time and recently in my ECMP 455 class we had a guest presentation from Liz Kolb, author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. View her slides here. She presented some great information and statistics which got me thinking a bit more about my stance on the issue. While I was teaching I wanted to find a way to include cell phones in my teaching and take advantage of the great tool that they are. It’s no secret that they are a very powerful tool and I felt I needed to find a way to use them not ban them. I included them in one of my Entrepreneurship 30 lessons which you can view at the bottom of this post.here (some attachments not included). I thought it went well but I believe that cell phones are a tool that may be hard to use every class, rather there needs to be a balance of their use. If they are not being used in the classroom, I’ve heard of a few different strategies for minimizing their distraction including a basket at the front of the room or holding on to them until the end of class if they are used inappropriately. I also don’t mind the idea of teaching etiquette and getting students to understand when it is rude to use your phone and also when it is appropriate to check it. I think it’s all personal preference and depends a lot on the school and students.
The thing that I am most interested in is discovering ways to use them to enhance learning in an educational setting. Liz mentioned quite a few different resources during her presentation including SCVNGR and ipadio which can be used to promote learning in different ways. I also wonder about using cell phones in physical education classes? How might one go about doing that? After doing some searching, I came across some great stuff at this Australian PE teacher’s blog.
Lastly, I want to touch back on the facebook topic that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m just curious as to how many schools or school divisions are blocking facebook. Is facebook available at your school? Do you think it can be useful in education?
I’m going to end this post by posing a few more questions to readers whom I would encourage to answer and discuss in the comments.
In what ways do you use or would you like to use cell phones in your classroom or school? Do you believe it helps promote learning?
Can cell phones be used in class or do they become to much of a distraction?
Below you can see a copy of Entrepreneurship lesson which included a cell phone activity.