The use of Smartphones in Schools.

It seems to me that you have a choice – you either embrace them or ban them.

The downside – they are a distraction with kids keeping checking their phones, playing games on them or sending messages.

They are used to bully other kids.

It encourages a shallow culture of celebrity and mindlessness.

The upside – They can be used in lessons to upload knowledge, access tables, record information, photo or video equipment and present info to the teacher.

Many students write faster on a phone than they do in a book.

Knowledge access is as it is in the real world.

Kids enjoy using phones and IT.

It used to be that kids loved doing scientific experiments and investigations but hated writing it up.

Now they can video the experiment, download a table and fill it in and write up their results. It’s quicker and they enjoy it.

We use to have to drag them over to the IT room or bring in expensive IT equipment. We have no need now.

I’d ban all extraneous phone use (games, calls etc) but get the kids to use them in class to use for knowledge or investigations/experiments.

Phones can be a great thing – and they are the tools of the modern world!!

10 thoughts on “The use of Smartphones in Schools.

  1. But poverty still exists, won’t phones amongst children only contribute to a hierachy I can see children with less cool phones being envoious, and those with no phones at all obviously jeaolous.

    1. I’m sure that poverty does exist and I’m sure that there is a hierarchy and envy. Using them in school is not going to affect that a great deal I wouldn’t have thought. When investigations are carried out in teams it is easy to organise groups with one member having a mobile phone to record. If the teacher is astute that can be carried out in a way not to draw attention to it or feed that envy. It would also be easy to have spare phones to use in such circumstances – much cheaper than the banks of mobile computers we used to have to lug around from classroom to classroom and charge up – and also much nearer to real life.
      I don’t think there is ever perfection. I just think we in education need to grasp the future and harness it.

      1. Opher, I read your book and enjoyed it.
        That said, it’s going on ten years since you were in school and believe me, things have changed a lot. Every kid now has a mobile, not just a few. Every kid is seemingly addicted to it’s screen and trying to ween their attention to class study is difficult enough without encouraging the use of phones in class. Have you thought of the numbers of younger kids who if permitted to use in class would not be using them for the lesson, but busily tapping away on some game or whatever. Think about it!

        I agree entirely with TheSociologicalMail as the situation is exactly as that and that’s why we don’t allow their use in class. Everybody has a laptop/tablet issued by the school for a fee and free to those without the means. None of the kids know who got a free one. These are quite perfect for use with class study.
        We do NOT encourage recording.
        We operate the very same principals as school uniform and we all know the grief if we didn’t have a uniform.
        We had so much hassle with bullying with kids whose stupid parents had bought them the latest £700 top of the range model phone. These idiot parents.
        We found the problems to be very much worse in Year 1 to 3, and not nearly as bad in Years 4 to 6, where from Year 5 there’s fewer pupils anyway.
        I can think of a number of other “Downside” issues with mobile phones in class, none of which have anything to do with celebrity culture.
        We want kids to be spending sufficient time thinking about the subject and not busying themselves on phones whilst the class is receiving the lesson from the teacher. They can do what they like, how they like AFTER the class, but NOT during.

      2. Sharon – I’m so glad you enjoyed my book on education. Thank you for saying.
        While I have been retired for seven years now I am not really out of touch with what has been going on. One of my sons is teaching in my old school and I keep up with many of my colleagues.
        The phone issue has not changed all that much from what I can see. I think we had the same issues when I was a Headteacher. Phones can be a real nuisance. I do not belittle the disruption they can cause or the difficulty in controlling their use. All I am suggesting is that in some educational situations they can be harnessed and put to great use.

  2. I agree with the positive points you made here, Opher, but wouldn’t tablets that run off the school’s WiFi be a better solution for the applications you mentioned? That might eliminate some of the negative uses you listed. The school would issue a tablet to each student for their use for the semester / school year.

    1. John – Tablets would work fine but our school budgets under these Tory cuts do not extend to supplying them. The kids already have smartphones that would do the job and they have a psychological advantage as they do not associate them with work.

      1. That’s quite untrue about any cuts, Tory or otherwise. If there are any issues and I don’t actually know of any, the fault surely lies with these local council’s education authority as it’s these people who manage the budgets. Our school had no difficulty at all receiving the required funding for equipment distribution to all our pupils requiring anything either last year or the year before that. In fact I cannot remember any difficulties for many years.

      2. Sharon – I don’t know where you are teaching but in my old school the cuts have been far-reaching – staff cuts – increased class sizes – slashing of support staff – less equipment. And all that on top of a nine year pay freeze which resulted in an exodus of experienced staff and a replacement with cheaper newly qualified staff. It is nothing to do with the Local Authority. It is all to do with the Tory austerity and drastic cuts to education (health, social services, police, armed forces, local authorities). They have devastated public services.

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