Mobile or Not…They’re Gonna Do It

July 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

mobile-handKids today live in an extremely connected world and they crave the instant gratification that can come with that level of connectivity.  They think so differently than generations of children before them.  They shift gears and thoughts before any adult can even blink an eye.  And this can lead to carelessness.  They post without thinking and that could come back to haunt them later.

Lisa Nielson suggests one reason to allow smartphones because we should be educating students with the tools they will use when they get to their professional life.  The idea of allowing cell phones in class on the premise that kids will be using smartphones in real life doesn’t work for me.  It’s one thing to argue on the basis of connectivity, collaboration, access to Blackboard, etc., but to suggest that we have an obligation to help students become proficient in their smartphone use is just silly in my honest opinion.

It is immensely important that we allow students access to mobile technology.  Does it have to be a smartphone?  Probably not, but if that’s all they have, then so be it.  Because while I don’t believe we have an obligation as educators to help students become proficient smartphone users, we do have an obligation to teach them how to be smart with their phones.

Yes, if we allow kids to use their smartphones in class, they are going to be off task at times.  Is this really any different that a classroom without smartphones?  I think not.  And there are a lot of great apps for use with students.

GroupMe is a great free app that allows for free group text messaging.  I use this regularly with my cohort members to keep in contact about projects, assignments, and even if I’m running late to get to class.

I can access my Blackboard account from my phone.  This is pretty awesome because I’m not always in front of my laptop when updates come through.  Having the ability to see what is happening in my classes while I am on the go is pretty important – it helps me prioritize my time.

I rely on my phone for email, the calendar, and the clock.  I use my camera for as much for taking inane pictures of my children and my dog as I do for taking pictures of things I need or want to remember to look at more closely later.  I use the internet on my phone.   I could go on, but I won’t.  I think you get the picture.

Something that really bothers me about mobile technology is the idea that so many school principals are against the concept of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.  A recent post on the MindShift blog reports the number is as high as 65% of principals as being unwilling to implement a BYOD program.  Honestly, how better to combat failing budgets than having free technology?  Yes, I know this leads to the idea that nothing is standardized and there are many platforms.  I’m sure the list of lame excuses goes on and on.  But I can’t help but think the level of technology education (with respect to how to use it) that would have to occur would be easily diminished.  The kid is using his or her own device for Pete’s sake!

One of the most important things to note about this debate as it rages one is that kids have smartphones.  They’re going to use them whether we tell them they are allowed to or not.  So regardless of my opinions or the outcomes of future attempts at BYOD or mobile device permissions – Lisa Neilson is right – double standards are NOT okay.  So as I sit in class and use my phone and social media (and admittedly NOT for schoolwork), who am I to say that we shouldn’t allow this?  I don’t practice “Do as I say, not as I do” with my own children.  I’m not about to do it with someone else’s.

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