I just wrote a post at our group blog, In Practice, called Cellphones in Class.
There have been quite a few recent posts in the education blogosphere pushing for schools to incorporate cellphones more in classroom instruction. Though I’m trying to keep an open mind, at this point I disagree and support the decision by our inner-city high school to ban cellphones (and iPods).
I’d love to get feedback to the post. You might also be interested in reading other posts I’ve written for the group blog, which is run by a group of us who teach in lower-income communities. Many of my posts tend to be a little skeptical about how technology is often used in schools.
This is a toughie, I would say it depends on many factors. Location in some countries: some students are actually almost required have cell phones. For example, my public school in Korea, grade 3 about 40% of the students had cell phones with them, most of those had them around there neck. By grade 6 about 90% of the students had cell phones. I could not ban them in the class because it “is not the Korean style.” And I would be fighting with the parents. But in Thailand most students did not have a cell phone, and if they did, there was a school policy to turn it off on school property. While teaching university, I had a more influence in the class. Cell phones where turned off before class, but those that had ‘business’ they could leave the phone on vibrator. If they take a call they should leave through the rear door before speaking.
Results: Grade 3 and 4 public schools were great… students understood that it was not right. Grade 5 and 6 was a nightmare, about 3 out of 40 (almost always girls) students would use a phone during class time either to text, make a call or take a photo. Taking away phones would just get me in trouble… University was wonderful, only rarely did someone take a call. Except my college class of “material designers.”
I believe that students should leave their cell phones out of the class, or have them in there bag in the off mode. If parents need to contact them… call the school. If an emergency occurs… the teacher should be responsible.
However, I believe that teachers and parents must make the first impressions. I do not know how many times my previous ‘co-teacher’ would pick up the phone in class and talk in front of the students, thus interrupting class time. This would probably take up about 1 hour of time or more a week. That is 1/25 of student’s time.