This post on change.org inspired a great conversation about cellphone use in the schools. That is not going to happen anytime soon in my school, but we do have iPods,a and traveling computer labs. Last year, I taught a pilot class in which every student had a MacBook. It was exhilarating to put them in charge of their learning. But I won't have them this year, and now I am having to re-strategize how to do that without the the laptops. It can be done--I have done it for years--but I feel like I am walking backwards. So I am posting this comment below to remind me of where I want to be, so I don't forget how to talk about this with those who don't see it yet. Thanks, Siobhan and Ira Socol...
"Sorry, but my mobile is my computer, my note-taking platform, my reference guide, I often load my books onto it. It is my assistive technology in many ways as well, and you are not taking it away from me because you can not master contemporary classroom management.
All around the world - outside of North America - the modern mobile is being embraced as the greatest tool of education. Imagine, the world's greatest library in the palm of your hand, plus the perfect way to engage with the teacher, with classmates, to make the backchannel an essential part of the learning environment. A word processor - a voice dictation word processor if you'd like - a camera capable of converting text into speech - a GPS device - a calculator. Yes, what might any of that have to do with making school work for most students?
So, here are my mobile phone rules:
(1) Keep it out, on your desk. That way, if you've forgotten to silence the ring, we're not waiting for you to find it in your backpack.
(2) If you need to talk, go outside. No big deal.
(3) Have it on all the time - we'll be using it - polleverywhere, todaysmeet, SMS questions to people out of the classroom, sharing links, putting important notes in our calendars.
And with those simple rules, and engaged teaching - "look that up, would you?" "please share that?" "can you text your friend and ask?" "really? everyone knows? everyone text three friends and ask them." We have no problems.
The phone of today is the essential learning and communication "container" (to use Alan November's term). If we are not using it in schools, if we are not teaching best mobile practices to our students, we are failing them.
It is that simple.