Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cell Phone Conundrum

(Cross posted to LeaderTalk)

In my position as an administrator, sometimes I feel adrift in a sea of information and an ever changing landscape of responsibilities and possibilities. I am already a day late with my post and I have at least three topics which I want to explore but for now I will stick with two related topics that stood out in my recent reading.

The Cell phone conundrum. There is an article in the latest Technology and Learning which does not offer any real opinion but which exposes the wide disparity of policies. The most extreme example of allowing/encouraging cell phone use is:

“Three middle schools and three charter schools in Brooklyn, New York, started a pilot program in direct opposition of New York City's public schools' cell-phone ban. The schools gave 2,500 free cell phones to students, preloaded with 130 minutes of talk time. Students will be rewarded with additional minutes in return for good behavior, attendance, homework, and test scores. Teachers, meanwhile, can send text messages to students to remind them of assignments or upcoming exams. The $2 million program was funded by private donors through the Fund for Public Schools.”

The reader survey, which accompanies this article, however shows almost 89% of the respondents ban cell phones on campus. Greg’s blog prints and excerpt from a New York Times blog on cell phone in the classroom. While most of the discussion centers on higher education there are some good points ( along with the usual fears, liability, responsibility, cheating, posting you tube videos etc).

At about the same time David Warlick posted the same example I have above but the primary context of his discussion was the development of acceptable use policies. This all comes together at a time when I am wondering about the application of cell phone technology at the Junior High level and wondering about how to help the students develop the maturity they need to responsibly use this tool.

I entered the conversation with the following comment which I am reprinting here because I think it is an important question and because I want to highlight David’s follow up post.

“Since both cell phone use and AUP are things I am thinking about let me raise a question that I have not seen addressed in the last year or so..

The givens: We talk about teaching students to use “all technology” in a responsible manner ..we see the potential of a whole variety of connectedness like cell phones

The question: Should we have a tiered AUP? That is should Junior High students have the same AUP as 9th graders? As 11th graders? What are realistic expectations based on maturity and responsibility?
(I work in a K-8 school)”

I have a host of questions about cell phone technology but for a moment I wish to diverge to explore the AUP issue. David posted again a couple of day later a link to a wiki to explore AUP policies and to give us an opportunity to collaborate on a tiered approach. The post and the wiki have some nice resources that are worth exploring but even more important in my opinion is the concept the AUP is much more than a set of rules . that it should be part of a technology policy statement.

Join in the conversation here or on the wiki.

Just a few of my other questions include: Is the cell phone a viable technology for the Junior High Classroom. If you have a one to one program is there a need to use cell phones? What are possible applications?

Photo by compujeramey

2 comments:

Melissa said...

Last fall I had the opportunity to see the video "Did You Know?". ON a search for the video to show teachers, I stumbled upon a post by Karl Fisch about cell phones ("What If", September 2006 archive, The Fischbowl, fischbowl.blogspot.com). In it he challenged the bans on cell phones and other small electronics, offering some actual uses for cell phones in class.
Each fall our students get planners, many of which end up unused in the backs and bottoms of lockers and closets. Are we trying to fit today's student into the mold of a paper planner? Why can't we let them use an electronic planner (on a cell phone)? Why not allow students to have cell phones on their desks (not to make a noise - no ring, no vibrate)? Obviously they have no reason to type a memo during a test, so they shouldn't need to touch it. If the cell phone is on the desk, it isn't being secretly used to text answers to a classmate. Is it?

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