Sunday, April 20, 2014

Caution banning cell phones may interrupt learning

“The only difference between smartphones and laptops is that cell phones are smaller, cheaper, and more coveted by students” (Richtel & Stone, 2009). Students, parents, teachers, principals, and elected officials know it is time to lift restrictions and embrace these tools for learning. Below is their wisdom and the research to support it.

  • In general, 95% of teens use the internet and 74% are “mobile internet users” (Pew, 2013).  With or without us, students are using cell phones for learning despite the perception by some parents and teachers that cell phones are distracting to kids. A national study shows that 1 in 3 middle schoolers are using their devices to complete homework and learn better (Tru, 2012). 
  • "... with cell phones tucked in the book bags and pockets of three-fourths of today's teens, many high schools are ceding defeat in the battle to keep hand-held technology out of class and instead are inviting students to use their phones for learning" (Malone & Black, 2010).
  • Nationally, just over half (52%) of teachers of upper and upper-middle income students say their students use cell phones to look up information in class, compared with 35% of teachers of the lowest income students (Pew Research Center, 2013).  
  • More than half of the world’s population now owns a cell phone, and children under 12 constitute one of the fastest growing segments of mobile technology users in the U.S. according to the The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop (Shuler, 2009).  
  • More than 50 percent of parents believe that schools should make more use of mobile devices in education and 32 percent agree that schools should require them in the classroom (Grunwald Associates, LLC & The Learning First Alliance 2013).
  • 76 percent of parents agree that mobile apps and content promote curiosity and more than 60 percent of parents agree that mobile apps and content foster creativity and teach problem solving (Grunwald Associates, LLC & The Learning First Alliance 2013).
  • 92% of high school teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching (Pew Research Center, 2013).  The cell phone, not the computer, has become the primary means of accessing the internet for 25% of teen mobile internet users. In low income communities, where computers and a home internet connection are not always available, the percentage using cell phones to access the internet is even higher.
  • Principals like Brooklyn Tech’s Randy Asher know that even basic cell phone technology can serve as a knowledge engine providing a tremendous wealth of information and resources to teachers and students. Such forward-thinking principals know firsthand what the research has shown: Mobile technology has become central to the learning process. In fact 73% of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers say that they and/or their students use their cell phones for schoolwork (Pew Research Center, 2013).
Elected Officials
  • New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has been on the record since at least 2006 ( Legislative Gazette, May 15, 2006) saying that cell phones should not be banned in schools. He has underscored this position in his campaign and transition agreeing he would lift the ban upon election (Crain’s New York Business, 2013).
Grunwald Associates, LLC & The Learning First Alliance (2013, May 2). Living and Learning with Mobile Devices:  What Parents Think about Mobile Devices for Early Childhood and K-12 Learning.

Karini, Annie (2013, April 26). Dems: School Cell Phone Ban Will Be History. Crain’s New york Business.

Malone, T., & Black, L. (2010, October 11).  Cell phones increasingly a class act.  Chicago Tribune.

Pew Research Center, (2013, April 2). A Quarter of Teens Mostly Access the Internet Using their Cell Phones

Pew Research Center, (2013, February 28).  How teachers are using technology at home and in their classrooms.

Ritchel, M., & Stone, B. (2009, February 16).  Industry makes pitch that smartphones belong in classroom.  New York Times.

Shuler, C. (2009).  Industry brief: Pockets of potential--using mobile technologies to promote children’s learning.

Tru (2012) Verizon foundation survey on middle school students’ use of mobile technology.

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