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Cell Phones in the Modern Classroom
posted by: Larisa | May 23, 2012, 02:20 PM   

According to recent statistics, cell phone usage among American students has exploded in the last two years. Once strictly limited during school hours, cell phones are now commonly used by students throughout the school day. While some stakeholders believe cell phone technology can enrich the classroom experience or provide students a level of security, others are finding them to be a distraction, leaving administrators searching for policies that balance technology needs with a structured environment conducive to student learning.

Most administrators agree that the rise of cell phone use in school was initially a response to the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School. Parents saw carrying a cell phone as a necessity to ensure security in the changing school environment. Over time, however, cell phones have become common possessions amongst teenagers for reasons other than safety.

According to opponents, the use of cell phones has led many students to become too dependent on technology. With a cell phone in hand, students rarely read more than a status update on Facebook and write little more than incomplete sentences in "textspeak." Also, because of the availability of calculators on cell phones, students do not rely on their own mental prowess to calculate solutions to basic math equations.

In reality, little is known about the true effects of multitasking and the ability to think clearly while listening to music or texting for example. Just two years ago, the Harvard Business Review Network estimated that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%, increase stress and cause a 10-point fall in IQ.

On the other hand, some teachers and other proponents of student cell phone use argue that mobile device use is inevitable and can sometimes add to the classroom experience. For example, many teachers allow their students to listen to music on headphones during study hall hours or during individual work. "I concentrate better on my schoolwork when I'm listening to music," is a common argument from high school students.

Since cell phones offer innovative teaching opportunities, other teachers believe that students should be taught how to use technology effectively, efficiently, and responsibly. In addition to simple data searches, cell phone usage can foster independent thinking and allows students to take part in lessons via online phone polls or technology apps. iPhones and other "smart" mobile phones can also serve as note takers or recording devices, letting students record field trips or lectures and catalog them into podcasts.

While the use of cell phones in the modern classroom remains a controversial topic, the common ground appears to be a commitment to balancing student learning with trying to appropriately allow for technology usage.

What do you think about cell phone use in the classroom? What is your classroom/school policy?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Anti-Cell Phone Activist
written by Bill - Maryland, December 14, 2014

Cell phones are a distraction. They need to be secured at the building entrance and never allowed in the building interior in possession of students. Cyber equipment for classes is now normally provided by the school.

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