This seems to be the pressing question.
Mary Bjerede wrote a blog post titled, "Cell phones in the classroom:
Surprising field studies suggest cell phones could be effective learning tools". In the article, she cites research that demonstrated the potential benefits including the ability to provide students with a multimedia approach to practicing math problems, compared to the more traditional textbook practice. Additionally, she speaks to the benefit and potential issues related to 'unfettered instant access'.
My general thought is that we should encourage and embrace the use of cell phones and handhelds with internet access in the schools. However, I say so with caution and understanding of the concerns of liability. I believe that responsible use can be achieved if :
- The school's AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) is very clear as it pertains to use of personal devices
- Teachers are provided with clear guidelines for monitoring use of these devices
- Parents are informed and included in the conversation related to expectations including the rationale for their use in addition to the responsibility placed on the child.
It's not a simple matter and I am meeting with our principal and Technology supervisor today to discuss the possibilities of allowing the otherwise 'banned' cell phones into the classroom.
I am very interested in any thoughts you may have and encourage comments, feedback, etc. If your school has a policy, please share what that might be.
Thank you in advance!