Category Archives: Digital Divide

Debate #6 – Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

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Throughout the debate I maintained my position by disagreeing that cellphones should be banned in the classroom. Cellphones have immense capabilities, clearly negatives and positives, that being said we should integrate technology into the classroom when appropriate. In the classroom I gave students permission at the start of the class to use their cell phones constructively. Students sometimes had to look up a word, and I encouraged them to increase their vocabulary by looking up synonyms, as well as other ways to enhance learning. As a result, I found students were on their phones less, as they did not have to hide them and there was less misuse. Yes, I recognize this does not work for every class. With this in mind, I taught high school, whereas they SHOULD be able to have some self-control. It should be noted, I believe there should be an age limit as to when we can entrust students with this responsibility.

Some big questions that creeped into my thoughts throughout the debate: should we give students the right to have a dynamic tool in their back pocket that can distract them from their learning? Rather, should we as educators teach students how to use these powerful tools?

That being said, there are valid reasons as to why cell phones should be banned in the classroom. These reasons include, but are not limited to,

Beland and Murphy’s (2016) study on the impact of cell phones on students’ academic performance, reported that when cell phones were banned from classrooms, standardized test scores went up approximately 6% on average and more than 14% for low-achieving students. The researchers observed that the ban’s differential effect on previously underperforming students is especially significant in light of school-board equity policies, as “banning mobile phones could be a low-cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality”

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
  1. Distractions…umm…what did you say? – Have you ever had a student look up from their lap with that blank stare on their face? The panic of oh I have been caught doing something I shouldn’t be, and now I have no idea what this lady is asking me. I have seen this face more than once in my classroom. Additionally, there are the vibrations or the ringing disrupting the whole classroom, and once in a while a video starts playing blaringly loud! For this reason, there is no doubt that cellphones are a distraction in the classroom. Cellphones are also a distraction for teachers alike, as teachers have to police who is on their cellphone as opposed to working. Ultimately cellphones could be stored in their locker or in a cellphone hotel and used at breaks only.
  2. Equitability gaps …hey not everyone has a cellphone – We have covered equitability in numerous debates and this one is no different! Sometimes when you cannot get the laptop cart you tell students to just use their phones. Additionally, in other instances there have not been enough to go around and you tell them to either pair up or use their phones once again. Some families cannot afford to buy their child a new cellphone with an attached data plan, and I as an educator forget that not everyone has a cellphone. Not having the ability for every student to have a cellphone with a data plan without connecting to WIFI, consequently widens the learning gaps and the equality within education.
  3. Critical situations – The agree team mentioned cellphones interfering with critical situations that occur in schools, for example, fire drills and lockdowns. Stephen corrected me in the debate conversation about the lights of cellphones being the main concern for the intruder, although there can be interference with cell towers being jammed up. He pointed me to a time at Luther High School where a teacher was held at gunpoint and the police could not get through to the shooter as the towers were all jammed up with the multitude of cellphones from students. In a lockdown drill students are not to be on their cellphones, furthermore they are supposed to shut them off. In effort to defend the agree side, this would be a very important factor and should be noted why cellphones should be banned from the classrooms.

Conversely, in my humble opinion the reasons for cellphones not to be banned in the classroom out weigh why they should.

“These educators maintain that cell phones can be leveraged to enhance student collaboration, engagement, and idea-sharing across grade levels and subject areas.”

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
  1. Promoting responsibility and self-control – As adults, most have the ability to not be on their cellphone when they shouldn’t be. We can use cellphones as a teaching tool in the classroom to know when to and when not to use their cellphones. Allowing students a sense of responsibility is positive in terms of future growth, as well as enhancing their social skills and work habits. As educators we can use this as a teaching moment to progress not digress!
  2. Outrage – Within the debate it was pointed out that guardians would be outraged if they could not get ahold of their child while at school. Whereas, looking back 10-15 years ago the guardians would just call the school. Preemptively, schools are avoiding the backlash of banning cellphones in the classroom, additionally schools would be plagued with the outrage of such an effort.
  3. Enhance learning – Cellphones are an integral part of the 21st century, and I strongly believe we should integrate these powerful tools into our planning and preparation. In doing so, students may not feel the need to always be on them (fingers crossed). I encouraged students to use their cellphones as a tool, as previously stated, in ELA to look up synonyms and increase their vocabulary as well as knowledge. Students began to tell me/ask me if they could further their research with their cellphone. If we start allowing cellphones to be a tool, as opposed to a distraction or a negative aspect in our classrooms students tend to not be scared to ask if they can use them. I mean in hindsight they are going to use them whether we say yes or no in some instances, so why not use them to help enhance their learning?

Studies reveal that cell phone use in classrooms have an array of other beneficial effects for young people, including improving motivation, being relevant for future work, supporting pedagogical innovation and greater interactivity in the classroom stated that cell phone use has high potential for students involved in distance learning.

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
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Final Thoughts

Educating students on ways to use their device properly in class would enhance learning as they have an immaculate amount of knowledge at their fingertips. That being said, I do not believe that self-control is primarily the students fault, as parents are calling and texting students within instructional hours of class time. Additionally, parents like the sense of security they have when they can reach their child at school. For this reason, boundaries are essential when allowing cellphones in the classroom, although cellphones in the classroom puts more work on teachers, as they have to police cellphone misconduct.

Some educators use cellphone hotels with labelled pockets for each student. Katia brought up the idea about student not having a cellphone and their pocket is empty, evidently pointing fingers back to the digital divide and equitability. There are going to be a multitude of hurdles that we face in the classroom with cellphones, regarding distractions, although I believe cellphones have their place in the classroom as well.

Maybe we, as educators, need to foster acceptable cell phone policies within our classrooms.

Debate #2 – Has Technology Made a More Equitable Society??

I have been struggling with this topic after the debate, as some very valid points were shed light on. I repeat the word equitable through my head. Equitable: dealing fairly and equally with all concerned. From one end of the spectrum people with disabilities are given a more equitable education, and then there is a social divide that limits certain students from accessing technology allowing for an unequal chance at education. So where do I sit?? The debaters did such a great job that I feel torn as I see negatives and the positives of both sides of the debate.

Positives Aspects

Individual Needs

From the agree side, teachers are able to help assist students with individual needs closing the gap and allowing every student inclusivity. The technologies mentioned in the debate was assistive technology such as hearing devices, screen readers, and even visual assistive technology. Through various assistive technology it allows people to function more independently and has created more opportunities to further their success.

  • Hearing Impairments: FM Transmitters have allowed students in classroom to hear all the content that is being addressed. We have all been in a noisy classroom, and feeling as though you cannot project your voice loud enough, but now think about students that are hard of hearing with the help of a personal FM station their world just got a little easier!
  • Screen readers: help students that have dyslexia be able to understand the text on the page without struggling for hours to read through the text and maybe then not even grasp the concepts. If there was not this assistive technology students could become discouraged and check out of learning for feeling that they are not the same as others. Technology such as screen readers has promoted equitability in the classroom to learn

Differentiated Instruction

There are various learners so it seems very obvious that we need differentiated instruction in the classroom. The Role of Technology in Reimagining School states, “Technology also makes it easier for teachers to share the work of developing differentiated lessons. If every teacher is teaching two-digit multiplication, one can develop games for skills practice while another creates word problems.”

Technology can assist in allowing all students succeed with various platforms like videos with captions and screen readers to name a few. The struggle lies when teachers do not see these as a learning platform to expand students understanding and knowledge, but use them as a babysitting tool so to speak, as mentioned in the debate. Technology in the classroom is equitable IF all students have equal opportunities to access computers, Ipads, and other platforms that are utilized as an educational tool.

Negative Aspects

Access Gaps

  • Cost of Devices

Technology may further the gap in education, as well as further outcast various students that come from a lower socioeconomic family. Not all technology is affordable for every student that is in our classrooms, and therefore do not have the background knowledge nor the capabilities of technology that we incorporate in our classrooms. Are we promoting a fair, inclusive and equal access to education when families cannot afford these platforms, and there is not enough technology to go around in our classrooms?

“Still many cultural and societal issues when it comes to a fair, inclusive and equal access to education.”

https://edtechnology.co.uk/comments/increasing-access-to-education-is-incremental/

Cost does not allow for equitability regarding access for all, therefore I argue does not lead to a more equitable society.

  • Digital Divide

Over the course of the last few years the digital divide has become more prominent in our educational systems. As schools shifted to an online learning format many students struggled with access to technology as well as internet. How does this affect students’ of lower socioeconomic backgrounds? The disagree side exclaimed that the digital divide promotes a social divide and creates gaps for students that do not have access at the ready for them to utilize. Furthermore, the digital divide is understood and coined in the 1990s by inequality between those that have access verses those that do not have access to technologies.

“Inequality of technological opportunities, in terms of the gap between ‘those who do and those who do not have access to new forms of information technology'”.

s. Ghobadi & z. Gobadi – Behaviour & INformation Technology

The disagree side laid out the inequity gap between high socioeconomic verses lower socioeconomic status regarding access to technology.

High Socioeconomic Status

  • Parental supports
  • More resources
  • Sufficient devices

Low Socioeconomic Status

  • Widening gaps
  • Technological inequity and pandemic
  • Insufficient access to devices

Socioeconomic status widens the gap between the use of technology in the classroom. The pandemic widened this gap further especially for families with multiple children as there were not enough devices for students to engage on. When I taught during the pandemic I heard multiple students exclaim that their sibling was using the computer, and they were on a phone therefore they could not fully engage in a lesson. Adversely, causing further problems when the said student went to work on their homework and realized they had no idea what to do. These students started to fall between the cracks.

Lack of WIFI and technologies affect minorities resulting in students not being able to freely participate in school, adversely being discriminated against and the feeling of defeat when trying to catch up in school work. The article by S. Ghobadi & Z. Gobadi addresses four major ideas when it comes to the digital divide; motivational access material access, skills access, and usage access. Motivational access is to wish to have access to a computer and to be connected to the ICT affected from low income, low levels of education, computer anxiety and lack of time. Ghobadi describes the other three factors with commonalities relating back to income, education, social class, and ethnicity. The word equity still buzzing in the back of my brain – this does not sound equitable in the least for students in our educational systems. I will leave the digital divide topic with the following quote for you to ponder over:

“Their results showed the relationship between digital access divide and digital capability divide (e.g. students without home computers had lower self-efficacy even when they had IT [information technology] access i schools) as well as the relationship between digital capability divide and digital outcome divide (e.g. students with lower self-efficacy had poorer learning outcomes”

S. GHOBADI & Z. GOBADI – BEHAVIOUR & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Concluding Thoughts

I see the divide for many students when it comes to technology in my classroom. Let me tell you why. We have students from all over the division, and some live in rural areas which either do not have internet or have very poor internet. The divide within the classroom for these students is very evident if they struggle with their work and cannot work on it at home, or if the student is sick for an extended time (especially during COVID). These said students started sliding behind with no means to catch up. That being said, this is only a small portion to consider within the realm of technology. I have also seen technology assist students with dyslexia in the classroom with mainly screen readers and speech to text. Furthermore, technology is constantly evolving creating difficulties for families to keep ahead of the everchanging ways of technology.

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In the debate I voted for disagree, although if I could neither agree nor disagree I would have chosen this option. There are positives and negatives to everything we incorporate into the classroom, and I believe it is important to keep in mind these discrepancies while we engage students in the classroom. This debate has opened my eyes to the gap in education from various socioeconomic status’ that disproportionately have access to technology (whether low end or high end quality), conversely creating a digital divide that questions whether technology has really made a more equitable society.

Debate #2- Technology Has Lead to a More Equitable Society

During this debate, I felt like I was being pulled towards both sides constantly. Originally, I had said that I disagreed with this statement as this is definitely a topic that I have not put much thought into before, especially past the general ideas surrounding access to tech and internet. Both teams presented many greatContinue reading "Debate #2- Technology Has Lead to a More Equitable Society"