Guest Blogger: Safro Kwame
According to The Lincoln University Students Handbook, "Cell phones are not to be used in the classroom during instructional time. Cell phones that ring and/or answered during classroom instruction are subject to confiscation by the Professor. Confiscated cell phones will be turned over to the Dean of Students. (http://www.lincoln.edu/studentaffairs/studenthandbook.pdf)
First, I do not know how many people enforce this policy. This is not to suggest that no one does. Secondly, I am not sure that this policy was approved by the faculty or even discussed. Thirdly, however, I think we need to discuss and approve a general but flexible policy on cell (mobile or smart) phone use in the classroom, probably along the lines of our general policy on attendance.
Here are some of the reasons or considerations:
1. On any school day, you are likely to find students spending a considerable amount of class time talking on their cell (mobile or smart) phones, in the hallways, while classes proceed without them; and in these or other classes, as teaching is going on, some students are texting their friends or relatives while others surf the internet and check social media sites reading or viewing class-unrelated material. Some, however, use their cell (mobile or smart) phones to take notes or pictures (of information on the smart, white or chalk boards) or check class-related information (such as dictionaries and encyclopedia) on the internet.
2. According to The Pew Research Center's survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers, published in February 2013, "73% of AP and NWP teachers say that they and/or their students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments."(http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teachers-and-technology.aspx)
3. The opposing arguments on the use or abuse (including banning) of cell (mobile or smart) phones in the classroom are well documented. In August 2013, for example, USA TODAY reported that "More schools use cellphones as learning tools" (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2013/08/07/views-shift-on-cell-phones-in-schools/2607381/) and a Forbes contributor argued that "Teachers Must Let Students Use Their Mobile Phones In Classrooms," (http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniserestauri/2013/08/19/teachers-must-let-students-use-their-mobile-phones-in-classrooms-2/) while The Huffington Post reported that "Ontario Teachers' Union Votes To Ban Cell Phones In Classrooms" (http://www.torontosun.com/2013/08/29/ontario-teachers-union-calls-for-classroom-cellphone-ban)
What do you think our general policy about the use of cell, mobile or smart phones in the classroom should be?