“Don’t get me started…..”, I ranted this morning. ITV’s breakfast show, Daybreak, was showing an item about school children using mobile phones in the classroom. There was an interview with some children studying a class (at 7.15 am?) who thought it was ok to have their mobile phones on in class, and they also spoke to their headteacher, who’d set up a policy of “we won’t ban mobiles, because we trust you to be sensible with your mobiles”. Even their parents thought their children needed their mobiles to text about after-school activities. Which is a little bit different from the stance taken by others to ban mobiles from the classroom completely. I understand that schools are concerned about the disruption caused by students texting, phoning, and silencing their phones during lessons. However, no-one mentioned the alternative. No-one ever seems to mention the alternative. If the children want to use their mobiles in class, why not let teachers take control and include mobile phones in their lessons and their students’ learning?
There are lots of things you can do with mobile phones in the classroom. I’m not going to go into loads of details, but here are a few examples and real-life examples.
1 . Permanent record of key diagrams/charts: One tutor, a colleague of mine, asked his students to copy some technical drawings and charts he was putting on the whiteboard. However, he couldn’t work out why some students hadn’t started to draw the diagrams themselves. When he’d finished his drawings, some of the students go out their phones, and started taking photographs of the diagrams!
2. Who wants to be a Millionaire-style live voting/testing knowledge: I recently did a live demonstration of using a survey in Google Docs to show how to get students to answer questions/vote from their phones in class, and display instant results in the classroom. It’s a live, interactive, fun way, of assessmentand getting learners to work together.
3. Apps: There are loads of mobile phone apps out there that can be using for learning and revision. Why not get students to search for some maths and science tools and share some knowledge, or write a critical review of some?
4. Audio and Video: Teachers can get students to record role play, drama sessions, even whole lessons and keep a permanent record of them. This is perfect for reinforcing learning and revision.
There, just a few reasons why we shouldn’t ban mobiles from the classroom. I even tweeted some of them to Daybreak, but to no avail. The Daybreak Facebook page has lots of comments for and against using mobiles in the classroom, but no-one mentions using them for learning!
Wake up to mobile learning!