Brilliance or blasphemy?

Hmm, cell phones in the classroom-brilliance or blasphemy? I think I’d have to vote on the side of brilliance…now, I am as irritated as the next person when in a meeting someone’s phone starts obnoxiously blaring out Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ (oh wait, that would be my phone!). So bringing cell phones into the classroom has to be done thoughtfully and intentionally. Yes, cheating is a concern…and if students can text in their pocket without looking, on some level you have to be impressed by that skill. Students still have to slide the phone out of their pockets to read the message however, much like they might slide a cheat sheet out of their pockets too. This is definitely an issue to be aware of along with many others.

Iphone and Filippo  - Dave Hill Effect

My vote for brilliance, however, comes from my observations with my students. We provide each student with an agenda/planner at the start of every school year. The expectation is they will bring this book with them everywhere; it is to become their lifeline to school. So our digitally connected, tech savvy, always plugged in kids are supposed to rely on a good old-fashioned spiral notebook to keep them organized and planned. Sure, that’s how it works of course…which is why every day lost agendas turn up in the office. Many of these agendas show a valiant attempt at regular usage, others look almost brand new, like they’ve yet to be cracked open. And of course the kids who need the most help with organization and keeping track of assignments, are the ones who can never ‘find’ their agendas. Guaranteed they can always find their cell phones! And the ratio of cell phones showing up in the office to agendas…well, it’s not even worth comparing. I also had great intentions to model appropriate agenda use, and I did just that-for about one week. Did you know that I can schedule things in my computer calendar and it will pop up and tell me what I have to do and when? If I had a cooler phone (no Jeff, I don’t want an iPhone) I could even sync with my computer and have my calendar, or agenda, with me at all times (yes, that’s because I’ve never lost my cell phone either). So much for appropriate modeling…

I had one of our Intensive Studies teachers (special education) approach me and ask if I thought one of our students should be allowed to try using his cell phone as his agenda. I was in full support of that-this kid lost his agenda more than he found it. Unfortunately, many of his teachers were leery of the idea of giving this new strategy a go. One main reason given was “but then all the kids will want to use their cell phones for agendas.” Works for me, saves paper and resources and guarantees they will always have their agendas on them. How do we know unless we try it out? So cell phones in the classroom? Absolutely, I think we can make it work!

Creative Commons License photo credit: mastrobiggo

2 thoughts on “Brilliance or blasphemy?”

  1. Funny how many think that if it works for a child with needs, that it isn’t somehow functional for all. Let them all put their agenda on their phones! As for distractions, let’s see if there are doodles in their agendas.

    Paper does not make people stay focused.

  2. Hi my name is May Krasovich and I attend the University of South Alabama. Our class blog is I am replying to your post as part of an assignment for EDM310 class instructed by Dr.Strange and Mr. Tashbin. I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that, “cell phones in the classroom is brilliance”. I myself being 26 years old can’t always seem to keep up with a notebook now that I have the option of using technology to keep track of my daily plans and lessons. With out my Blackberry or mac I would probably be lost.

    However, as an educator I understand that we must keep a close eye on what the children are doing during a test or quiz, but it has always been that way. Cheating with a cell phone is no different that cheating with a piece a paper the kid made the night before. After thinking about about this I could come up with only one difference. That difference is they can put more information on a cell phone apposed to one piece of paper, but either way you look at it cheating is wrong and I don’t think a child having a cell phone in the classroom is bad a idea. I will be following you post for the next few weeks. You can contact me at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *