There are more mobile phones in Australia today than there are people – go figure! It’s therefore not surprising that many students in schools have them including many students in the upper primary year levels.
The capabilities of today’s smart phones are amazing! Not only do they include calculators and cameras (still and video), many also have GPS, audio recording and internet capabilities as well.
Whilst they can be an annoying and disruptive they also have tremendous potential as a useful and engaging piece of practical, hand-on equipment. Many adults today rely on their mobile phone as an essential tool.
This contrasts with the policy in most schools where mobile phones are banned or restricted. In many schools there are formal rules, written in school policy or in student handbooks addressing this issue. But as phones become like more extended appendages in everyone’s lives, schools are rethinking their policies.
In the following example from a US school they have gradually changed their policy. It has gone from a “no mobile phones in school at all — not even at lunch time” policy about four years ago, to “mobile phone usage in the classroom if the teacher has asked for permission ahead of time with an explanation of what will be done and why it is necessary” about two years ago, to “mobile phones can be used in the classroom if the teacher has students using them for educational purposes” last year, and back to the more prohibitive “students may use mobile phones in the school only at lunch in a specified area” — the policy for this year.
Many students already carry a powerful computing device in their pockets, while often the technology hardware at schools is woefully out-of-date. By allowing mobile phones, schools may find they have equipped students with better devices — with devices that work as calculators, cameras, video cameras, books and notebooks, for example — at no or low cost to the school.
Is it time to be revisiting policies on mobile phone usage in your school?