Despite the advancements of technology and its proven contributions inside schools and districts, there’s still pushback on the utilization of mobile devices within classrooms. Why? It’s sometimes argued that smartphones cannot facilitate education, but only present an obstacle, whether by causing distractions and creating opportunities for cheating.
Lisa Nielsen, founder of The Innovative Educator and author of several books on using technology for instruction, champions the view that mobile devices in particular should not be banned or discouraged. Rather, they should be treated as a solution in the task of education. In embracing technology, teachers can make the topics of education more relevant to today’s generation of students.
Nielsen’s approach to using mobile devices responsibly falls into two major components:
Mobile device management should begin with the educators in mind. It’s similar to what makes a successful 1-to-1 laptop program. Educators need to know how to use the device as professional tool for themselves before they can know how they’ll be beneficial for students.
Begin with an initiative that focuses on how educators can use mobile devices to manage their own work, outside of their commitment to students.
Once teachers understand the professional application of phones for themselves, they should allow students to use mobile devices in the classroom and even allow students to teach them how to use learning applications.
Teachers are experts in instruction, but students are experts in utilizing new technology. This can be a powerful combination for the classroom. Consider, for example, asking students to answer the question: “What tool or application might be best for this project or assignment?”
Her studies have shown that focus on empowered use corresponds to fewer incidents of abuse. The question of whether or not to allow mobile devices doesn’t need to be framed as a yes or no, but as a matter of how. By training teachers and empowering students, hopefully we can move from banning to embracing technology as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure our students are safe.