Cell Phones in the Classroom

Posted by: Hilary Gibney

Smart phones are in and the teacher’s policy handbooks are out. Schools around the country are beginning to see that students not only use their phones to keep in complete contact with their friends,but for learning and educational purposes.

Photo by Twon on Flickr

Media Shift did a study, and found that people have a harder time completing everyday tasks without the use of their phones. Cell phones have become not only a communication tool but also a handheld computer. These mini computers have everything from high-speed-Internet, maps, notepads, photo and video recorders, calculators and books. Not to mention the technology that the students are holding in their pockets is faster and more up -to-date than most of the technology schools have to offer! And this advancement in tools puts no costs on the school.

Jamie Williams, a high school teacher, states his opinion on the use of cell phones in his class.

My high school’s policy is cell phones should be off and out of sight. If seen, they are taken and the student is written up. Our handbook says students may use phones with teacher permission. I’m a huge tech nerd and make my students use their phones throughout my class. My biggest gripe is that most students have these great smartphones and barely use the device to a 10th of their potential.

It is becoming apparent that cell phones are more than just a tool we use, but in fact, a tool that we need. Personally, I know that when I forget to bring my phone along, I would rather turn around to retrieve it and be 15 minutes late to a meeting than sit there with the torturous thought of knowing that my phone is not in my bag. Some people complain about how technology is taking over the world, and they are right. Is it a bad thing? No. I think we can use this to our benefit. Yes, there will always be ways to abuse powers, but we now have the absolute convenience to have any information we desire with the click of a button.

I applaud the schools willing to go forward with the technology of the 21st century and allow cell phones. These phones are great tools that the students will be able to use and receive fast, reliable information in the palm of their hand.

What do you think teachers should do? To use cell phones or not to use cell phones? I can’t wait to see the day when my professor stops saying “Everyone take out your pencils” and starts saying, “Everyone take out your cell phones.”

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10 responses to “Cell Phones in the Classroom

  1. This is a great topic. I am in the teacher education program, and will soon be a high school teacher, and this is an issue I will have to tackle soon, too. It is very interesting in my education classes as we discuss classroom management, the issue of cell phone usage in class is debated among all the future educators in my classes. This is one of the most heated topics to bring up in an education class.

  2. I’m a little torn. A part of me thinks it would be a great tool for learning. You could easily look up information pertinent to the topic at hand to supplement learning. But at the same time, you can never know if students are actually doing homework. I think I would say yes, at the very least for high school and college students. It’s a responsibility issue and I feel like at that point they are old enough to decide for themselves whether they will use their phones to supplement their learning and pass the final test or whether they will not and fail.

  3. I think cellphones are appropriate in some subjects, but I don’t think we should rely heavily on them either. I know there aren’t as many situations where a cellphone can’t be used, but once you find one, and you don’t know how to proceed without it, you’re between a rock and a hard place. And what about the kids who can’t afford smartphones or data plans? Kids from impoverished homes already have enough problems advancing their education; it makes me nervous to think about what would happen if the educational realm became reliant on smartphones. If such a shift were to take place, you could count on seeing an even larger rift between the classes. But I admit that is very far off if it takes place at all.

  4. I agree with Kathleen. Although it seems like Everyone has a smartphone, a greater number do not, or don’t have a phone at all. The economic demographic of the school would need to be taken into consideration before requiring cell phone usage in class. I remember the extreme cost of graphing calculators in middle school and high school, and that was just a one time payment. The kids who could not afford the smartphone would be left behind, and feel uncomfortable in that situation.

  5. I love my smart phone, but I’m not sure how much I want to use it in class. The Internet’s great, but I get much more out of face-to-face interaction than I do from my iPhone–when it comes to learning, anyway. Yes, they’re great tools, but I’m not sure how much students would get out of incorporating them in the classroom. You didn’t talk much about policing use in the class, which I think is a big deal, especially in high school. How many students will actually use them as learning tools as opposed to texting, Facebook-ing, or playing Angry Birds?

  6. I’m not sure that cell phones should be widely adapted for school use. I can’t imagine if I had to take notes on my phone all the time…my thumbs hurt sometimes from just texting. I’ve also been distracted by my phone on plenty of occasions, and if it happens to me – a college student – I can’t imagine how distracted an elementary or high-school student would be. (Yes, elementary students might seem young to be included in this smart phone discussion, but my 10-year-old sister has classmates with iPhones. Talk about students who use smart phones at 10% of their potential.)

    It will be interesting to see where things go in the future, though. As much as I don’t like it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see smart phones taking on a bigger role in the classroom.

  7. Smart phones are a phenomenal asset when used correctly, but do high schoolers use them correctly? For the vast majority of high schoolers with smartphones, I think the answer is no. I’m all for cell phone use in class if it serves a purpose, but once the activity you’re using them for is done they instantly become a distraction. They are already a distraction and students are breaking the rules in order to have them.
    Students see their friends all the time at school, in class, between classes, etc yet they have the need to communicate with them in the class? There is no need to have a phone on you during the school day, if it’s in case of emergencies then check it between classes or have your parents call the school and not you.
    The argument that students should be able to have cell phones in class because they are “so plugged in” is ridiculous and if they cannot be put aside for however long a class period is then there is the issue of obsession or dependency.

  8. I am definitely one of those people who relies on their cell phone. I use my droid as a navigator, a dictionary, a translator, a camera, a notepad, a flashlight…the list goes on. I use it in everyday conversation to google topics I’m curious about and watch previews of movies I want to see.

    However, when it comes to learning, I don’t think cell phones have a place in the classroom. Students should be taught and encouraged to use computer software and stay up to date with news websites. However, if teachers hand over teaching to our cell phones, we will cease to learn from each other, but will learn from machines.

  9. I think smartphones will continue to become more and more prevalent in the classroom as time goes on. Their practicality and usefulness are inescapable, and classrooms will inevitably be forced to adapt.

  10. I honestly don’t think high school students need their cell phones in class. Call me old fashioned, but in my opinion, if something needs to be researched or written during a class period, the school should have computers provided for that. I often bring my laptop to class in case I have something I would like to look up. I realize many high schoolers don’t have laptops, but if they were in desperate need to figure out something, they could walk to the computer lab to figure it out. When it comes to college, I think that cell phones should be allowed simply because we should be treated as adults. If I feel the need to spend my 45+ minutes of class time texting someone about whatever I am going to partake in the following weekend, that should be my prerogative. If I miss out on an entire lesson, that will alter my learning and my experience, that is a fault that is entirely my own. But, if students want to use their phones, they should have to be silent. Personally, I don’t use cell phones in class for anything, and I definitely did not need them when I was in high school.

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