Cellphone use in schools

What do we do about cellphones in a school context? Do we ban it or embrace it as an educational tool?

The tendency in our country (and pretty much world wide) is to ban the use of cellphones in schools. They complain about the disruptive ringing of phones in their classes, learners using their phones to share test answers as well as learners distributing compromising photos and videos of fellow learners (and even teachers) . We know that we are dealing with a new generation of “thumb tribe” learners who can Mxit in their pockets while listening to lessons (Mmmm….)

Then there is the personal safety concern of learners being mugged outside of schools for their cellphones. Media coverage of learners being kidnapped after giving out personal information as well as more recent “slut-lists” making the round on Mxit, implores us to take the general use of cellphones (in or out of schools) more seriously.

There are definitely educational advantages to allowing cellphones in and out of the classroom. The learners have a ready calculator and encyclopedia in their hands. They can get help with their maths from Dr Maths on Mxit, Mlearner or MyMobi. How about getting the learners to video science experiments or summarise Shakespeare using Mxit? Maybe if we keep them busy with educational experiences on their cellphones, we will actaully manage to keep their attention?

Then there is also the advantage for parents to keep in touch with their children using cellphones. I am also glad to see that nmore and more schools are using SMS technologies to advise parents of school functions and their children being absent from school.  So to say that the tool is all bad, is just not giving the whole picture and we need to work towards finding a middle ground between learning and abuse of the tool.

My feeling is (as with the rest of the new technologies doing the rounds) to be pro-active. Isn’t it our job as educators to educate our learners about safe use practices? Can we do this if we ourselves are not informed?  So the first step is for us to use the tools. We need to get connected to Mxit, use it critically before we ban it outright.

So let’s get the debate going, voice our fears and more importantly start using the tools ourselves so that we can be informed, prepared and educated! We have created a wiki page for educators on this very topic, see http://saschools.wetpaint.com/page/Cellphone+use

Some articles to get the discussion going:

  • Cell Phones at School: Nuisance or Necessity?
  • Cell Phone Use In School
  • Cellphones in Schools?
  • Teacher Cell Phone Use at School
  • Cell Phones at School: Should They Be Allowed?
  • New cell phone rules eyed to protect kids
  • Crafting A Workable Cell Phone Policy (Great starting point!)
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    1. Pingback: Cellphones in schools | maggie

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