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Christian Lemke

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Should smart phones be allowed in the classroom?

Smart phones are already in the classroom, and that is not likely to change, regardless of rule, threat or consequence. Allowing them, but insisting that they are not concealed is a better approach for two reasons: Firstly, teaching explicit instruction on exactly when it is appropriate to respond to a text can happen. Secondly, the teacher will be aware more often of the moments when students have been distracted, so the redirecting of focus for individuals can happen.

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Closing Statement from Christian Lemke

I love this site! Great comments all around. In closing, I'm not dissuaded from allowing students measured access to their phones based on what I've read.

Using the phones to cheat in class came up, which, I have to admit I hadn't paid much attention to. In my high-school class environment the cheating is more likely to occur in multi-section courses, where student in period 1 texts info to student taking the same class in period 2. I'm a single section, so it's a non-issue for me, but an issue worth exploring to help in other circumstances.

The question of a student's 'right to bear phones' in class came up, using the argument that paying customers of education should feel free to engage, or not engage... after all, they paid. Like TK, I don't buy it for a second, because fiddling at inappropriate times is distracting to the other paying customers nearby. It's simply rude/selfish in a presumably academic environment.

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    Sep 25 2011: sure, they can cause a distraction... but they can also be used as a learning opportunity. i look up unfamiliar concepts and things i am curious about on my smart phone in the classroom all the time, it's just a tool. i do not answer texts though. i firmly believe that rather than banning phones and other various technologies in the classroom, they can definitely be used to instruct when it's appropriate to use them, or just teach and practice social etiquette in general, which of course means there's got to still be boundaries... like during teacher(s) speaking or when it is disrupting productivity. smart phones are well integrated into our world now, that's just reality. whether people have the ability to use them responsibly in the classroom is the real question, though...

    besides, kids in classrooms are bound to use their phones in the classroom whether they aren't allowed or not; they're sneaky. perhaps during tests they should be put in the front of the classroom or something, since cheating does happen.
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      Sep 25 2011: 'since cheating does happen'. is almost an understatement Sterling. This is one of the dirty little secrets that educational institutions are pretending to ignore.
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      Sep 25 2011: SG I understand that often, the phone is the 'default' dictionary and thesaurus, map... as you say, 'tool' for many of my students. Remarkably, the students in my class seem to feel empowered to be allowed to use their most familiar tool without getting a sideways glance from me. They appreciate the autonomy, and show it by respecting and learning the 'digital etiquette' concepts I described in my opening remark.

      Cheating is curbed, I like to think, by the fact that phones remain out and in view. Also this way I have a better chance of knowing if students are 'up to something' which to me means, they're not engaged and might be missing something critical to the lesson.

      The autonomy granted takes care of classroom management, the phones being out helps curb cheating and misuse/clandestine use, and also gives me clues into who is engaged, and who is drifting into their own worlds, when. So far, it's working for us.
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    Sep 24 2011: Any student paying for their education should have the liberty to do as they please. It's the 21st century people c'mon!
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      Sep 24 2011: I'm assuming teenagers have smart phones, too. In high school. Same opinion? Would the parents agree I wonder.
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      Sep 25 2011: @ steven, true that. paying customer i could be able to know whatever i please whenever i please.
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      Sep 25 2011: @Steven Would you feel the same if your freedom compromises other students' learning? Students often spend class time on their cell phones and other electronic devices in such a way that it distracts other students around them.

      To use an analogy, should students be allowed to play music or smoke cigarettes in class?

      Paying tuition does not give you the right to take away others' freedom to learn in a minimum-distraction environment.
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    Sep 24 2011: Let them doodle away but if I had my way there would be no smart phones in class, as in check them at the door. As an adult learner, I am shocked at the amount of cheating that is going on with technology especially phones.
  • Sep 25 2011: Smart phones can be used as "Student Response System". WE need Smart Teachers who can help students use Smart Phones smartly.
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    Sep 25 2011: Without reforming total certification system currently we have to into real education system , just allowing phone (not only smartphone) will not bring any benefit thats my feelings.

    Interestingly with eveolving technology what I understand from various discussion here certification system of the most rich and devloped countries maintaining status quo........!!!
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    Sep 24 2011: sure! and let them doodle too!
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html
    seriously, this is on teds mainpage atm.
    generates more focus aswell.
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      Sep 24 2011: Okay thanks for the note. I hadn't seen the topic elsewhere on the site... in fact I hadn't looked to be honest. I appreciate that you mentioned it.

      (...and doodling is a-ok in my class too)