Can smartphones counterbalance student distraction and capture the attention and interest of students for learning in school? More and more students, at younger and younger ages, sport smartphones, and are eager to find exciting new apps. Schools and teachers are at a tipping point right now, in terms of whether to allow smartphones on campus.
Middle School Principal Heather Graham from Ottawa explains, in the Financial Post, the conundrum around smartphones in schools: “I have seen a number of those and there are wireless networks around here right? So who knows what they could be doing with that in class? There are very good educational uses for cellular phones. But so far, we’re sticking with: When you get on school property, the phone goes off.”
English teacher Heather Jankowski, in the Financial Post, notes the irony of banning smartphones, when schools are pushing for faster integration of technology:
“In a way it is sort of hypocritical, because we really push for use of technology in our classroom — with white boards and using projectors and the Internet and giving students access to all those things — yet at the same time we’ll turn our heads around and ban their use of [smartphones].”
Like with all new technologies, the question is how fast and how effectively can schools figure out ways for student learning to increase with the use of smartphones. Of course, one quick way is to lift bans and then see how students begin to create learning opportunities. For example, Droid App development is open, thanks to Google. Google’s Code University has introduced tutorials for students to be able to learn how to program and code. It would be great to see schools steer students to being creators instead of just consumers of media on smartphones.
In the same Financial Post article, Heather Jankowski seizes on the opportunities to learn from apps: