Reflection on Mobile Devices & Connections

This past week’s module had excellent timing. Lately my students have been driving me insane with their absolute inability to put away their phones during class. At my school, the Great Cell Phone Policy Debate has been left in the hands of the teachers (as I personally think it should be). As a math teacher, I know that my students will be using their cell phones as calculators at home when they work on their homework – I use my cell phone as a calculator all the time! – so what’s wrong with having them use it in class? I also love using internet-based quizzes (like Kahoot and Quizizz), and while I am fortunate enough to have enough Chromebooks for my students to use, if they have a phone, why not use it as the tool it is?

This Debate, as I’m sure most people are aware, is a hot topic in education. Many people do not agree with me, citing reasons such as those in the video below. (Note how they provide no cited references for their claims or statistics, however.)

So when this module discussed how mobile devices can be used as tools, I loved the ideas. People are already using their phones. Why not use their phones to connect to them?? I kept thinking, “How can a school library effectively and efficiently enhance a student’s learning experience through their mobile device?” I came away with a few ideas and a lot of think about.

One idea that is solidified in my mind after this week is that the school library website needs to be mobile friendly. Although I know very little about website design, I’ll have to find someone who does or get to learning, because I completely understand the vitality of this concept. Students use their phones even more than I do, and I hate it when websites are not mobile friendly; it discourages me from using those sites at all. That is definitely not how I want my students to feel about the school library website!

One of the articles this week discussed beacons, and I loved that idea! I appreciated Alice’s post and her more thorough research into beacons, but I’ll have to do some more of my own to see if this is viable to use on a public school campus. If so, what a wonderful idea! My students need constant reminders about homework assignments and test dates and I still get complains that they were not aware of something I said three times, posted on the school gradebook website, and wrote on the whiteboard. Maybe if the message went to their phone, they would actually see it!

The last concept that I came away with is not to be discouraged. Sure, my students are driving me nuts with their texting and scrolling through instagram in class lately, but mobile devices are an excellent tool, and I should not ignore that just because they are annoying me. Yes, there is a balance to be had, but as a school librarian, I should continue to look for and encourage that balance instead of supporting any sort of banning.

7 thoughts on “Reflection on Mobile Devices & Connections

  1. I love your take on the usefulness of phones in a learning environment! I work on books for K-12 educators, and your perspective reminded me of a book I worked on last year that argued for the value of phones (and similar technological tools) in classrooms. An image from that book that stuck with me was one of a classroom sign reading “Please pull out your device”–exactly the opposite of what I expect a teacher to be telling students when they enter a classroom. (If you’re interested, the book was The Blended Learning Blueprint for Elementary Teachers, by Jayme Linton. It’s been a while since it published so–other than that image–it’s not very fresh on my mind…but I’m sure Dr. Linton had plenty of evidence for the value of having phones out in a classroom. I think she might have even discussed Kahoot!)
    I also love the idea of incorporating beacons into school environments. I know I rely heavily on my phone for notifications about due dates, meetings, and assignment details, and I’m sure students in physical learning environments could benefit from similar notifications.

    • Thanks for the book title! I was reading your comment and thinking , “Oh, what book?” and then you said, so yay! I’ll have to check it out over break. I personally still write everything down in a bullet journal, but I know so many people who use their phones as their reminders the way you do. It’s certainly something to at least try, I think. 🙂

  2. Hi Kristin, I found your viewpoint on the use of cell phones in class to be quite interesting. In the past, when my kids were in high school, teachers did not allow the use of cell phones (for anything) in class. I agree with you that the phone is a handy tool, but as you pointed out, it is also a source of distraction. Finding that balance, as you indicated, is crucial. I liked your idea for having a tool like beacons send a message to the student’s phone reminding them of homework, tests, due dates, etc. My children would have benefited from a technology like that! Still, I fear a couple of them would have found a way to wiggle out of doing the assignment anyway. Sigh.

    • Ha! Oh, that’s not just your kids. There are plenty of students who find excuses for not doing their assignments, even during class! Thanks for your thoughts as a parent; I’m not one, so it’s nice to get different view points!

  3. I really appreciate your balanced view of the debate and your insights from the classroom. I hope you can continue to advocate for thoughtful smartphone use in the school. Thanks for the video too!

  4. I think that banning cellphones in schools is a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Technology is not going anywhere, so why not attempt to use it to our advantage instead of rejecting its usefulness altogether? It is smart to see technology as a tool to supplement your teaching and connect with a generation that has grown up with it from a very young age. I have a question about teachers, influenced by my own experience attending public and private schools, why is it that once some people become teachers they tend to forget the difficulties they had with and shortcomings of their own childhood educators? It seems like an opportunity to improve that often goes by the wayside. Anyway, keep working hard and looking to new avenues to reach your students. Interesting and thought provoking stuff.

    • Thanks! And yes, I agree; it is completely unrealistic to ban them altogether, but there are plenty of schools and classrooms that are still trying to do so. As for your question… pride? Stubbornness? Some teachers sadly have too much of an “adult vs kid” mentality with students (“Sure, when I was a kid I did the same stupid stuff, but now that I’m an #adult, I know better and can do the same things to these kids that my teachers did to me, even though I hated it”). There is also a problem, especially in my field of mathematics, with the fact that the current teachers were probably the type of students who DID find success with old styles of teaching. So they perpetuate the cycle, even though it leaves a lot of other students struggling unnecessarily. Something to think about though…

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