This once again appears to be a rising topical issue. I read a really interesting arcticle in the TES this week called Friend of Foe? Talking to a few people in education about the use of mobile phones in the classroom. Click on the link to read:
It has also been quite a big talking point in the states recently; basically my response is WAKE UP! I am pleading with school leaders, union representatives, ministers and even some teachers to really open their eyes and see what is really going on in classrooms all over the world. Teachers and students are embracing the use of mobile phones and using them in really innovative ways.
I have been teaching 7 years and since my NQT have openly used mobile phones and encouraged students to use them whilst involving them in creating an acceptable use policy. Maybe I have been lucky but both of the two schools I have worked in have not banned mobiles and allowed students to use them to enhance their learning. We have great success with them and encounter hardly any problems of misusing them this is because I think we educate our students to use them properly and they play an integral role in creating our acceptable use policy.
Why do schools ban them?
Well I have read lots of things that tell you why they are so bad and I have heard teachers nearly break down and cry because they are so scared of this electrickery in a small box! Some teachers are concerned about behaviour and the classroom management however as an NQT in a National Challenge school I think I may have noticed if this may have been a problem. Some are scared of them being used as a big stick to bully teachers or bully other students we have had very few of these situations happened and my current school has allowed mobile phones for four or five years now. As long as students are educated what is acceptable use then most of them will stick to it and if you have an effective behaviour or moral code then students know what will happen if they do misuse them. In fact recently we had an e-safety inspection and we passed with glowing colours and one of the strengths was allowing the use of mobile phones but within a safe framework. Some are worried that students that can’t afford them or will have no street cred because they haven’t got a smart phone will suffer but they won’t because they can have first refusal on any netbooks or laptops etc from the school that you may have in your classroom and allowing the other students to use their phone puts less strain on your classroom resources.
I just read a blog by Dominic McGladdery http://www.domsmflpage.blogspot.com/ he is so right with what he said! I have found exactly the same as him – the use of mobile phones can allow students to take more responsibility for their own learning and thus is a tool to help true independent learning.
I have openly used mobile phones in class since I started, more recently we had a very successful project called Recharge the Battery which utilised the use of students mobile phones read one of my earlier blogs: http://www.danjjroberts.co.uk/2009/06/07/recharge-the-battery/
This was found to be a great idea as it won an award at the Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum in Hong Kong in 2008.
Some simple ways to use mobile phones in the classroom:
- Students use the voice recorder to record audio of you explaining a concept so they can listen back to it for revision.
- Students use the voice recorder to record their own podcasts for revision, or even their own raps or songs within the classroom. Students could even get other students to each record them a question so for homework they could listen back to the questions and record answers about the topic they are studying.
- Students can take photos of other students work for example, some of our students take photos of each others mindmaps to help them in their own revision. Students can take photos of an experiment to help them create a story line of what they were doing.
- Students record videos of other student’s presentations or record videos of a science experiment and then use the footage to create their own videos. I have done this where I did a heart dissection and students recorded it on their mobiles, inserted the videos into moviemaker and narrated over the video clip demonstrating their knowledge then uploaded it to youtube to get feedback on their video.
- Students use the Bluetooth function on their mobiles to text in answers to questions on the whiteboard in the form of an interactive quiz. I have found this to be really effective with less able boys who don’t like writing in fact some boys prefer to write notes on their mobile and print it out at home and stick it in their book.
- Students use the phone to access the internet for research etc.
Just this week we had a new student join us who couldn’t speak any English what so ever within ten minutes of joining her new tutor group her fellow tutees had downloaded an app that could translate what they wanted to say to her and there were smiles all round now that is powerful stuff!
Do you or your school ban mobile phones? Do you have any great projects or ideas where you have used mobile phones to enhance learning in the classroom?