Thursday, January 13, 2011

Loosening Our Grip - #MobileDevices in Schools

Q: Can we use cell phone blockers to prevent students from using mobile phones?
R: OK, found out cell phone blockers are illegal.  I was asked to research. Research is over.  Thanks for the speedy and informative responses.
Source: Technology Director in Texas

As an adult learner, I can't imagine my life without a mobile device--my Android phone. In the morning when I wake up, before I even get out of bed at 5:15 AM, I'm sorting through interesting tweets and plurks, adding them to my list of favorites/likes for later review. By the time I get up in the morning, I've already picked out items that require further research for use in K-12 schools, or that I need to learn more about.

At work, as I move from meeting to meeting, I'm kept in contact with a world dying to share what they are discovering. I suppose that some people use these contacts to plan their social calendar, but I find most educators use them to share what they are learning as it relates to their career and vocation, rather than only for what some would consider frivolous personal activities. Social engagement isn't frivolous,though, especially when it's centered around learning to enhance teaching, learning and leading in schools today. I keep some of my favorite podcasts, and I listen to those as I work or drive, letting the voices of educators I trust speak their mind into mine. . .it is a powerful connection.

For many, mobile devices remain objects of uncontrollable danger...since we don't know what may be on the phones, some school districts have banned them. Yet, blocking such ubiquitous technologies is a fool's errand. Rather, let's learn with our children how to better use technologies such as these.

What do you think of this advertisement on the cell phone jammer web site?
Many teachers are at wits end trying to stop students from texting in class or sending texts to cheat on exams.  Although these cellular phone jammers are capable of ending cell phone communications, you may be surprised by the simplicity of these devices. In fact, cell phone jamming requires nothing more than the push of a button!...We have recently learned of something called "cyber bullying", where students use text messaging to torment other students when they should be paying attention to lectures.  This provides one additional reason that teachers are becoming fed up with classroom cell phone use and are opting to use jammers to regain control of their classroom.

Dr. Joy Rousseau, Arp ISD in Texas points out the folly of restricting mobile phones in schools, sharing a story from her past:

I certainly hope you do not scramble cell phones. There are sooooo many resources out there now showing teachers how to use them effectively in the classroom. I am working on a presentation on Tuesday at pre-conference on how to use them as engaging resources in the classroom. Just need to tell you a story that actually happened to me.
I have worked in Russia for the last 18 years training teachers at the secondary, post secondary and masters level. When I first went to Russia (some 18 years ago) to train a group of high school teachers, I  asked for a piece of chalk  (because I love to draw when I talk AND because all they had was OLD chalk boards in the classroom). Well, the participants were in a flutter. They had to get a hold of the principal of the building. We had to wait while she arrived. She had a key and unlocked her office, then unlocked a large cabinet, then pulled out the one piece of chalk from the cabinet and handed to me like it was the most valuable treasure on earth. I have never forgotten it. The participants kept telling me how respected I must have been to get the one piece of chalk from the principal. That was the most coveted piece of technology in Lomonosov, Russia at the time which let me know that even though teachers had chalkboards, they couldn’t actually use them.
Let’s not go there, even with respect to cell phones…….

Scott Floyd (White Oak ISD) shares a link to The 10 Building Blocks for Learning with Cell Phones. Some of the key ideas remind us that we are HUMAN beings and that any rule or mandate that tries to block human beings as they seek to share who they are is doomed to fail.

  1. Build Relationships
  2.  Embrace Research
  3. Plan Activities
  4. Pilot Program
  5. Access for all
and others.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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