Friday, July 3, 2009

Using, not banning, digital devices

I've just read yet another post explaining why teachers should embrace cell phones, iPods, and other digital devices in the classroom.

Awesome. She's absolutely right. I can think of several ways off the top of my head to use this technology.

Here are the weaknesses in this plan:
  • Not every kid has a cell phone.
  • Not every kid who has a cell phone has the same technological capabilities.
  • Cell phones can be distracting as status symbols.

Our school has uniforms so that clothing is less of a distraction. If someone can't afford the uniform, or school supplies, the school helps them to obtain what they can't purchase. If we applied the same policy to cell phones, we'd be using a HUGE part of our limited budget on droppable, breakable, out-date-able technology. Of course, if someone donated a whole bunch of cell phones, minutes, and texts, I'd gladly take them!

I've spent hours just teaching my kids to use basic office software. Would I have to spend the same amount of time teaching them to text and post to the web from their phones? Maybe, maybe not.

Some of my kids come from less-healthy home situations. If I gave them a donated cell phone, would it be "borrowed" by parents who can't afford phones...or, even worse, by older family members in gangs? How could I avoid making this a problem?

How do I address safety and cyberbullying? Am I more liable if I provide the phone?

Has anyone out there successfully used cell phones in the classroom? What do you do?

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