Pop Quiz: Call Me Maybe (Except Not When You’re In Class)
Earlier this week Dan posted a Pop Quiz about the use of TV and video in the classroom. His questions made me think about how the use of technology has been developing in my own school, particularly with regards to the use of mobile phones and tablets. I don’t know what it’s like for other educators out there, but in my school it seems like mobile phones are often viewed as horrors sent from north of the Wall to deaden the hearts and minds of our children. Or something.
We have very, very strict school rules about pupils who try to use their phones in class. We’re supposed to confiscate the phone from any pupil we catch in class and send it straight to the office to be picked up at the end of the day. Given that pretty much every one of our roughly 1300 pupils carries a phone, you can probably imagine how big an issue this is. In fact, the other week our head teacher sent out a very sternly-worded email to remind us of this policy; he felt that teachers hadn’t been sticking to it.
This policy troubles me. I understand why we have it and I know that pupils can very often become completely distracted by their phone’s warm glowing warming glow, but I really really hate it when I have to confiscate one. I hate the physical intrusion of taking the device, I hate the very high possibility of a serious confrontation developing, and I hate the assumption that a mobile phone can only ever act as a hindrance in a teaching environment.
Having said that, it does seem as if change might be afoot. Our I.T. department recently approached a few teachers (myself included) to ask us to help with an experiment. Our own personal phones were given access to the school wi-fi network (which is in itself very new; kicking and screaming into the future indeed) and we were also asked to nominate one trustworthy class each to be granted the same permissions. I now have a class of seniors who all have permission to use their phones and tablets in class.
It’s been wonderful.
They can email work submissions to me, search for sources for discursive and persuasive writing tasks, take class notes straight onto their phones, and lots more. I can share lesson plans with them virtually and can allow them access to their own copies of any lesson presentations or documents I might need to use.
These are our top senior pupils, however. I’m very much aware of how different an experience I might have had if I had chosen a class of more “energetic” 14 year olds. Still, I’m glad that at least one part of our school is beginning to shake off its somewhat irrational fear of anything with a shiny screen. I hope that we can manage to make this pilot work and that it will, with appropriate structure and guidance, filter down through the rest of the school.
What are your views on the use of mobile phones and other such technology in the classroom?
Does your educational establishment (if you work or learn in one) have a similar policy to that of my school?
What other positive applications of such technology could you see for the modern classroom?
The Pop Quiz is a question for you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.
Featured Image Credit: JonJon2k8