For those who have read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies, a member of my PLN showed drew a great parallel between events in those stories and this debate with the following quote:
- Mobile devices are great for teaching 21st century skills. If you want kids to learn to collaborate, what better tool can you use than a phone? Videoconferencing with people all over the world becomes easy. One of the main arguments against student phone use is that kids might cheat. My response is that tests that are so lacking in rigor that students can look up answers on a phone or get them from another student are lousy and outdated in a world where information is free and easy. We need to get used to the fact that kids don't need to know "stuff" nearly as much as they need to learn to use that "stuff." Tests of recall don't prepare our students for the world ahead. Kids know this - it's why they think school is irrelevant. Kids working together to find solutions to problems (collaboration) should be encouraged, not labeled as "cheating." Policies that ban cell phones because students might text each other are short-sighted. As Kevin Honeycutt is fond of saying, "Students used to pass notes on paper. We never banned paper."
- Double standards are not OK. I know of several districts where administrators come into classrooms with iPhones and/or iPads to take notes on teacher observations. Yet, in these same classrooms students are not allowed to use mobile devices. The message this sends to students is totally unacceptable. These are great tools. Kids know it. Let them use them.
- We need to teach kids responsible ways to use technology. Keeping them "safe" by refusing to expose them to technology is irresponsible on our part. Students are using cell phones whether we ban them in school or not. They are communicating, sending pictures to each other, using social media and social networking, and consuming information. We need to be teaching them how to do this while protecting themselves from both mistakes they might make that will follow them for decades and others who want to do them harm. The dangers and pitfalls of using mobile devices aren't going away. Isn't it our responsibility to teach our students to be safe?