EMBRACE THE MISCHIEF: J. Robinson aka The 21st Century Principal readily admits that cell phones in schools can cause a lot of mischief (sexting, bullying, loud ringing, and inappropriate photo/video capture, to name a few), but he urges educators to consider the good with the bad. "It is that same possibility and potential for mischief that make mobile devices powerful tools for learning and powerful tools for the classroom," he writes.
It's certainly no mystery that today's students function in an intensely digital world that's radically different than most of us can fathom. Areport released this week by the Pew Research Center finds that 78% of American teens (12-17) have a cell phone, with nearly half of those being smartphones. And though internet access still evades some SES groups, the report also finds that "those who fall into lower socioeconomic groups are just as likely and in some cases more likely... to use their cell phone as a primary point of access." It's not a stretch to imagine that draconian anti-cellphone measures may inadvertently perpetuate the digital divide.
Robinson thoughtfully offers up a couple of strategies for avoiding such measures. We especially like the idea of focusing on behaviors instead of technology. Classroom distractions aren't usually born of mobile devices even if some disruptions can be magnified through them. Keeping the focus on student behaviors helps set a sturdy foundation for introducing any new technology, mobile or otherwise. As Robinson points out, "for almost every problem caused by mobile devices, there is a 20th century equivalent behavior."