Smartphones in the class

music-playlist-2There have been lots of discussions about the pros and cons of using technology in lessons each looking at the issue for a different perspective.   Some people are positive about how technology can benefit students and their learning while others cite detrimental impact to student writing ability or concentration.

A recent post in the TES presented the issue of how smart phones in particular were contributing to sexual harassment incidents in schools.   You can read the full post here.   Within the post the general secretary of the ATL explains that she feels that in too many places, sexual harassment has become acceptable.   The author of the post goes on to raise how sexual harassment has always existed however it is the impact of technology and social media which has greatly increased the scale of the problem.

I fully agree with the authors comments with regards the importance of staffs well being and dignity however I disagree with the suggestion that the solution is for schools to “insist that pupils’ phones be left at the door”.      This would remove many learning opportunities which arise where students have access to a mobile device in lessons.   In addition by removing the phone it removes the opportunity for students to learn about what is right and appropriate when it comes to using mobile devices including the cameras which they come with.    Where students previously might have drawn inappropriate sketches of their teacher, did we ban the pencil?

I also disagree with the authors comment regarding how “schools cannot cure the ills of society”.    Schools are part of society and cannot operate independently of it.     Therefore I feel we as educators have a responsibility to make sure students learn about the appropriate use of technology, the risks and challenges so that they are equipped to be better members of society.    Stopping student smart phones at the school doors either prevents or at least limits the potential for this learning.   Students will still have smart phones so if they are inclined to take inappropriate photos they are still likely to do it, albeit being more creative about how they sneak their smart phone into class.     As such we have gained little but lost the opportunity to have a discussion with pupils about how they should use their smart phones in class, in school and in society as a whole.

We need to take care in where we arrive at decisions to try and block or ban certain technologies.    Technology is now pervasive throughout society.    The issue is whether technology is put to good or ill, and working with students so that they learn to be respectful and responsible users of the power put in their hands through technology.





Would we ban the pencil had it been a sketch.

Was going to tweet this however decided not as 140char not enough to fully elaborate on my thoughts on this.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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