Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Personal Mobile Devices - Enhancement or Distraction?

So here is the $50,000 question - Are kids responsible enough to use their own mobile devices while in school?  Will changing current policies to allow for the use of personal mobile devices enhance instruction or distract kids from learning. Here are two different viewpoints.  The first is from the St. Charles Parish School System in Louisiana.  They are piloting the idea of letting kids use the own devices in school.  The second is from New York City where the mayor insists the policy of banning student cell phone use will stay in place.  Who is right? Your thoughts?

My thoughts?  Glad you asked.  Why not give kids the benefit of the doubt about how responsible they can be?  The first year of our pilot taught us many things, one of the most important lessons was related to the level of responsibility our students demonstrated.  We were most impressed with how responsible kids were for the appropriate use of their devices, as well as how responsible they became for their own learning.  The latter observation is truly transformational.  When folks talk about "distractions from learning", are they assuming the only person a student can learn from is the teacher?  If so, they have really missed the boat.

What if you had to turn your mobile device off for 7 and 1/2 hours a day?  What if you wanted to look something up on the Internet you had to wait in line to use one of of the two classroom computers?  Think about it.  We're old.  Being connected is something relatively new to many of us. Imagine if you can what its like to be nine, or fourteen, or seventeen and having grown up connected everywhere except while at school.  What a drag.  Not just because you can't check your Facebook, but because you no longer have control.  Although we say we want kids to take responsibility for their own learning and become independent life long learners, aren't we inadvertently fostering dependency? Is the issue of control what it all really boils down to?  Hmmmmm.

Louisiana -

New York -

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