New Innovations Show How Mobile Devices Can Be Helpful To Learning… Just Not In Pennsylvania

from the no-progress-in-the-keystone-state dept

While some politicians in Pennsylvania are trying to push a law that would put an outright ban on most portable devices, such as mobile phones, in schools, not too far away, in Washington, DC, this week, there was an entire conference on how such mobile devices were increasingly useful in the classroom to help in the education process. Apparently, some politicians in Pennsylvania would rather block out that opportunity, just because the devices might also be occasionally misused.

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Comments on “New Innovations Show How Mobile Devices Can Be Helpful To Learning… Just Not In Pennsylvania”

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23 Comments
Amos says:

I say ban them. Cell phones are one of the biggest distractions and they annoy everyone around the user. There is NO reason to have them in schools. I don’t want to hear the lame excuse about how there may be an emergency and the parent may need to contact the kid. We didn’t need them when I went to school and we don’t need them now. The school has landlines you can call if there is an emergency and the student will be notified immediately. Most kids just use them to play games and text each other. Also they are used for cheating on tests by checking google and such. I say ban them.

Mike P says:

Re: Re:

One of the main problem schools face is that a ban on cell phones is very hard to enforce. A friend of mine in the IT field for a school district has a blog that outlines his thoughts on how phones in the classroom isn’t so far-fetched. In addition, it sends mixed messages to the kids. Check out his points: http://tannervision.blogspot.com/2009/02/everyone-take-out-your-cell-phones-for.html

I’m not sure how viable cellphones specifically are in the classroom, but banning them and trying to enforce that ban is a very uphill battle.

Paul (profile) says:

Occasionally misused?

“just because the devices might also be occasionally misused.”

I think it’s more than likely that they will be highly misused unless they are somehow restricted which would mean most kids are still going to have a regular phone that can do regular texting and stuff. In that situation, I doubt any kid is going to want to have a second phone that they can use just for school stuff.

duane (profile) says:

Are there kids on your lawn? Would you like them to get off it?

I thought so.

Kids cheated and talked and wasted time long before cell phones were invented and will do so long after cell phones are implanted in our brains at birth.

In my day we passed notes, used sign language and just plain talked behind the teacher’s backs. Cheating happened too, and it involved nothing more complex than a little memorization.

If you’ve got a complaint about cheating and time wasting, why not address the problems and not the technology used t facilitate it?

Some IT Guy says:

I live in Pennsylvania...

Wow, I knew this state was starting to suck (well maybe not compared to New York, New Jersey, or Maryland) but this is ridiculous!

I was in high school in PA at the time of the “cell phone transition” (this is what I call the cell phone boom that happened in 2 years).

I think at first they were banned in school, but then half way through my senior year they lifted the ban and said the phones simply had to be on silent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why ban ?

Banning them will do no good. Kids will still use them, surreptitiously. And when caught, it will be that more suspicious since they were trying to hide the use. Why not implement a system similar to what prisons are doing in the third world (I am *NOT* suggesting schools are like prison). Due to the high rate of inmates still running their “business” from behind bars, the prisons have implemented cell phone jammers which disallow the use of cell phones in their perimeter.

Additionally, if something were to occur , say a school shooting, part of the response plan could be to turn the jammer off, thus allowing use of the cell phones during an emergency, both for purposes of notifying people of the emergency or as a communication tool for those caught inside. And even put a timer on the jammer, so it turns on 5 minutes prior to first period, and off 5 minutes after last period. This way the school *effectively* enforces the ban, no exceptions, no need to be watching the kids, no unnecessary confrontations because of unauthorized use. A win-win all around.

Just my two cents…

From PA says:

Ban them from school by state law? No.

Allow teachers to confiscate cell phones that the students are misusing in class? Yes.

If the students can use cell phones responsibly, as in keep it on silent during class, or don’t use it when you are supposed to be paying attention, then that is fine. If a student is texting during class, or the ringer goes off and disrupts the class, the teacher should have the ability to confiscate it. Why the need for a law?

Whisk33 says:

Disappointed

Usually your links are much better. When trying to find evidence in how mobile devices can be useful in a classroom instead of examples I read a bunch of people simply saying they can be useful. How many people does it take to say something is true for it to become true? Perhaps a better link next time and your argument of “…politicians in Pennsylvania would rather block out that opportunity, just because the devices might also be occasionally misused.” Might have more weight behind it. As is, it’s easy to recognize the misuse and more difficult for the benefits.

CJay (profile) says:

Not going to work for an educational solution

The problem with these efforts to get kids using technology in the classroom like iPods and CellPhones is that the teacher can’t control who has which version and if every kid has one… when you pass out textbooks, you know every kid has one. If you want everyone to use their cell phone to text in their answer to the question, what do you do with the kids whose parents don’t want him to have a cellphone yet? Or don’t want to pay for texting. Education needs technology the teacher can reliably distribute in class, be trained on and understand, and get consistent results.

Anonymous Coward says:

National problem, not PA specific

As the title suggests, this is a problem that just *happens* to be being addressed in PA. It’s a problem everywhere.

I’m a recent College graduate, with High School immediately prior. I’ve been there more recently than most of you middle aged guys and gals trying to compare this to passing notes, using calculators, or paper airplanes…

This is a problem. I cannot count the number of times that people with cell phones have been a HUGE disruption and distraction in classes, both high school and college. It is not uncommon for literally a third of the class to be sitting there, ignoring the teacher/professor, texting.

It’s not just the people who are actively texting that are hurt by this either, as texting is Never a completely quiet or isolated activity. Often it involves the clicking of keys, the flip noise of certain phones, and the obvious movements of peripheral vision that lead to huge distractions even of the students who are not responsible for the activity. It truly does hurt the classroom environment.

And ‘Silent Mode’ is not effective whatsoever. If it vibrates, it still makes noise and is just as distinguishable and distracting as if the Simpsons ringtone were going at full volume. And then, of course, regardless of the vibration noise, it is still followed up with the same distracting actions and noises that any other texting involves.

Have you bothered to notice how a very important selling point of most newer phones is becoming their full keyboard and the ease of texting? It’s becoming a huge part of many people’s lives. Doing this in class, however, hurts not only the person texting, but most of the people anywhere near them.

Even as someone who has, admittedly, spent class time texting….I fully believe it would be in the best interest of the educational community to find a way to end cell phone usage in any classroom setting. The best way, in my opinion, is to remove the cell phones from the classroom so that the temptation is not even there. Any phone found inside of class should be confiscated for the remainder of the day, with multiple offenses leading to additional punishment for violation of school terms, such as detention at the high school level, or university sanctioned educational “modules” (often in the form of a powerpoint presentation and a quiz to follow) at the college level.

I know that we all love our cell phones, but they have no place in a classroom setting. They can be used to cheat, or to distract…but they bring absolutely no positive benefit to the classroom…and even if they did, that benefit would be dwarfed by the level of distraction and annoyance that accompanied it.

In a cost-benefit analysis of cell phone presence in the classroom, phones are an undeniably negative instrument that works against ALL students in a class.

I suppose we should allow PSP’s and Nintendo DS’s in the classroom as well. They serve the same purpose in the classroom.

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