Al Boerema prompts the conversation:
We and our students are surrounded by new media and technology. Reflect on the impact that you see this having on the classroom and your students’ learning. What are the positive and negative effects in your experience?
November 14, 2011
Mary Ashun starts the conversation:
I’d like to get the ball rolling by letting you get a peek at a grade 8 student’s letter to his principal regarding cell phone use in class; I just got this today, so how appropriate!
Evergreen Middle School
I think that we students should be able to use cell phones in class. I’m a grade eight student at Evergreen and I think it would be great if we could use our cell phones in the building because our cell phones have many tools that can make school a lot easier. Some of these tools include calculators, translators, and notepads. These applications could help us so much because we usually have to carry many different tools by hand, but with a cell phone you have all those things in a compact electronic device. This means there will be fewer things to carry and we won’t have to go to our lockers as often.
I think we should have cell phones in class for another reason. In times of emergency, a student could use their cell phone to call for help. In the worst case scenario, using a cell phone would be necessary if the power was cut or the phones weren’t working for some reason. In some cases, cell phones have helped kids in a bus with a drunken bus driver and potentially saved all their lives. You might say that there is a very high percentage of students who would use their cell phones to cheat, or meet up with friends in the hallways, but you can set up a test of some sort to see which students are responsible enough to have electronics in class.
Cell phone usage is very common at our age, and the technology that comes with it is very advanced. There are now applications that allow you to use Microsoft Word, take notes with an onscreen or hardware keyboard, and use the Internet using Wi-Fi. The Internet on your phone is very useful because you can use it for research at the click of a button, connect to printers, and use them as mini-computers. Phones are very technologically advanced and they can do almost everything that computers can, even though they are handheld and small. It will be a pleasure to have them in class, but they can be taken away during very important tests and assignments. We are the tech natives, and we know that cell phones will mainly and mostly be of assistance to our learning.
Grade 8 student
December 1, 2011
Rebecca De Smith continues:
Thank you, Mary, for sharing this letter with us! This eighth-grade student brings up an important challenge schools face in regard to technology—when and how to allow students to use technology in learning situations. As educators, do we “give in” to the “digital natives” in our classrooms, letting them use (and possibly abuse) technology in their learning, or do we maintain control in our classrooms by using methods and equipment that we (especially older teachers) are more comfortable with, but which may be less engaging for our students?