Category Archives: enhancing learning

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 #1: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

Technology has evolved at a very rapid pace over the last 20 years, as more and more applications come to light. Has technology enhanced learning, or is there so many platforms out there that are ever evolving we don’t know where to start, and then ultimately stick to the same old? I do believe technology enhances learning if implemented effectively, and taught how to use these implemented platforms.

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Technology has its place in the classroom, and students seem to perk up when we say movie or computers, notably increasing engagement. However, technology does not always enhance learning as students can become easily distracted, cause a lack of social skills, and now more than ever the rise of mental health issues are on the rise. Beginning this debate I immediately, without a thought, clicked agree to technology enhancing learning, surprisingly after the debate I leaned more to the disagree side. The disagree and agree sides portrayed their positions remarkably well to show how technology can both enhance and impede learning in the classroom.

Technology Enhances Learning

  • Students can learn at their own pace:

Emma Cullen in the article What is Technology Enhanced Learning provides relevant ideas on how students can learn differently in the classroom. We all know that not every student learns at the same pace nor do they learn the same way, for this reason technology enables children to adjust to their own pace of learning. Furthermore, software applications allow students to focus on one exercise as long as they need till they understand, as a result freeing up the teacher to help students that need extra support. We all know that there are diverse needs in the classroom and only one teacher, in that event some students do not get the help they need depending on classroom sizes, as well as varying different grades in one classroom. Oh the other hand, students who need enrichment can also challenge themselves with software applications.

“Technology in education enables children to adjust to their own pace of learning.”

What is Technology Enhanced Learning – Emma Cullen
  • Skills for Success in the Real World:

Technology continues to grow and flourish, therefore there will be more and more careers that will require the use of technology. When children are introduced to technology at a younger age they are more adaptable, comfortable and prepares them for these future endeavors. In preparation for the real world and the changing dynamics I think about my parents verses their children and then their grandchildren – my nephew can run a iPad better than me – each generation becomes better equipped with technology as they are introduced at a younger age.

“Children can start getting technological skills early that they’ll need in the future.” 

Impact of technology on kids today (and tomorrow).
  • Engagement of Students:

Technology motivates students to learn from different platforms from watching a video (visual aid) to engaging in Gizmos (application based).

“Modern technology also motivates students to learn, students can learn and have fun at the same time, which helps them stay engaged with the material.”

The Positive & negative Effects of Technology on Education and In Classroom in 2022

As the agree side stated, technology is constantly evolving, therefore various technology is more current than the textbooks we rely on in our classrooms. These textbooks are projecting material from only one lens, whereas when you research a topic you can get a multitude of perspectives about the same topic. Students engagement level is heightened when watching a video, as opposed to reading a textbook daily – as I used to do mostly in high school. I remember the joy we would feel when those old projectors or TV carts would be pulled to our room – phew something different! Humans alike do not like mundane repetitive tasks, so why would our students?

Technology Does Not Enhance Learning

  • Lower Attention Spans

“The immediacy of technological interactions make waiting harder for children.”

Impact of technology on kids today (and tomorrow).

Have you ever had your patience tested when a website will not open immediately? Technology moves very fast which is adjusting our wait time/down time, ultimately leading to shorter attention spans. The rate at which technology moves allows students to have something to entertain them, on the contrary in the classroom there are wait times as the transitions are not as smooth or at the pace of the other students. Furthermore, as attention spans are lowered adjustments may need to be made for only focusing 10 minutes on one activity and faster transitions. Feel the need for speed!

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  • Lack of Social Skills

As more time is spent online, and most of their communication is being done through social media platforms, children are struggling with face-to-face interactions. Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen a group of teenagers at the same table? Generally, this group of teenagers are not interacting verbally, instead they are all on their phones. Most children spend more time texting as opposed to meeting in-person, which is creating social anxiety in many youth.

“Isolation of students in a digital and virtual world that distances them from any form of social interaction”.

Four Ways Technology Has Negatively Changed Education – Alhumaid
  • Other Negative Impacts

Four Ways Technology Has Negatively Changed Education – Alhumaid

• Deterioration of students’ competencies in reading, writing, and arithmetic, which are the basic three skills any student is expected to master;

• Dehumanization of education in many environments and distortion of the relationship between teachers and students;

• Deepening of social inequalities between the haves and the have-nots that is students who can possess technology and those who cannot.

  • Mental Health on the Rise & Bullying

The use of technology has lead to depression, anxiety in all forms, as well as suicide, coupled with cyber bullying, which further heightens these mental health concerns. Students used to be able to escape bullying, as it was limited to the school day, whereas in the 21st century there is no escape from cyber bullying. Furthermore, not being able to escape bullying this alone can impede on one’s mental health. I strongly believe that technology has enhanced these mental health concerns, although I am unsure about the role technology in the classroom impacts these concerns.

Concluding Thoughts

After hearing and reading about both sides of the coin I still believe technology has the opportunity to enhance learning in the classroom. Albeit, technology must be introduced in a way that will enhance learning effectively and implemented strategically. Technology is not a babysitter for teachers, but rather an enhancing tool to help enrich and supplement diverse learning needs in the classroom. Teachers should be teaching boundaries and expectations of the various different technological platforms being used within the classroom to allow technology to enhance learning. I do, however see the downside to technology as well, and with proper guidance and implementation technology can indeed enhance learning in the classroom.