This Associated Press story yesterday once again broached the topic of cellphones in the classroom. The article describes a school in Tampa Bay that encourages students to use cellphones for educational purposes.
For instance, in the article, an English teacher asked students to look up information about author D.H. Lawrence, and within seconds, students began sharing their finds with the rest of the class. Using cellphones saves time, says the article, because classes no longer have to wait to go to computer labs to do quick Internet searches. And those students who do not have cellphones either partner up with those who do or are given alternate devices to use.
However, this part of the article made me wonder whether cellphones can be just as much of a distraction as an educational tool:
Senior Eric LaGattuta, who attended Freedom High in Hillsborough before moving to Wiregrass Ranch, called his new school "ahead of the game." "They're just following the rest of the world. It's going digital," he said, checking his phone for messages repeatedly during a short interview. "Once you're 16 or 17, there's things you need to know throughout the day. It was so inconvenient when I had to hide it all the time."
There’s no question that cellphones are used by students during school for non-educational purposes, but perhaps the bigger question is whether the educational benefits of that technology outweigh the distraction factors.
What do you think? What’s your school’s policy on cellphones?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.