Ted. A. Lysiak, director of instructional technology for the Euclid Ohio district, says students are walking around with 24/7 connection to the world that they can use for research purposes, publishing purses, and connecting purposes (Trotter). This quote is a great reminder of just how useful cell phones are for education today. With technology on the continuous rise, many schools still refuse the use of cell phones in the classroom. Middle school, high-school and college campuses continue to do the best they can to improve learning, but they are leaving out one of their most valuable tools. The National Education Association’s websites states, 50 percent of mobile phone users in America now using smartphones, the numbers only seem to be growing (Graham). Although some could argue against them, cell phones provide students with a larger variety of learning tools, better organization, faster access to questions, and the opportunity to become more responsible; therefore, cell phones should be used for educational purposes in middle school, high school, and college class rooms.
Many argue that allowing cell phones in the classroom is equivalent to allowing students to cheat. In an article by Caitlin Moran titled Cellphones, Handy Tools for Emergency Alerts, Could Be Used for Cheating during Tests, Moran argues how schools are concerned that cell phones can be used for cheating and how this problem is rampant (Moran). She opens up her article with, many colleges use cellphones to warn the campus of potential threats. The devices are, after all, in almost every student’s pocket. But now worried instructors and administrators say that students might use phones to cheat on tests (Moran). Moran follows with a true story on one college’s experience. Some instructors at the university are rethinking their policies about cellphones in the classroom. At least one college has experienced an incident in which students used text messaging to get answers during a test (Moran). At Prairie View A&M University multiple nursing students were not allowed to graduate after they admitted to cheating on a comprehensive exam by texting students who had already completed the test (Moran). That same month, 10 California high-school students admitted using text messaging to cheat on an Advanced Placement exam (Moran). From another source, A study from The Benenson Strategy Group. Additionally, 41% of students admit to storing notes on phones to use during tests and 46% of teens admitted to texting friends about answers. The possibilities for cheating and copying are literally limitless when students have access to cell phones in class (Betts). These statistics are dangerous; almost half of students used cell-phones to cheat in the classroom.
Although opponents do make a valid point, before technology was such a big part of everyday life students still found a way to cheat. In that case, administrators found ways to prevent students from cheating by moving desks, making different test versions, etc. So why throw away student’s most useful tool when the negatives can be prevented? Despite the alarming issue of students cheating with their cell phones, the list of benefits for students is much longer. An article by Nicholas Melvin argues that cell phones should be used as educational tools in classrooms. Melvin starts off by explaining that the Palo Alto High School in California is a wonderful school and continues with the words, but despite Palo’s efforts to help students reach their fullest potential, they are not perfect. There are areas in which Pal- can improve our education system, and resources which could be better utilized. One of these resources is cell phones (Melvin). The article follows by describing just why cell phones are such a great resource. One of Melvin’s biggest points are when he states, Cell phones are an incredibly powerful tool, with the ability to connect students to virtually any resource they could possibly need (Melvin). This tool includes taking faster notes, listening to music to help focus, and engaging apps in class such as Kahoot (Melvin). Kahoot is an app/online quiz game where teachers can create questions to quiz their students over content. Students access the game on their phones and type in a game code so when the questions pop up on the screen, they can anonymously answer the questions on their phones. Quizzing students not only tests their knowledge, but also encourages students to pay more attention during lectures as well. When students become more engaged in the lectures, it allows them to take more accurate and detailed notes. These notes are then easier to study, therefore increasing the students want to study. Studying then leads to improved grades. Engaging students in the classroom is an extremely important factor. Another app students and teachers could very easily use is the Remind 101 app (Graham). The remind 101 allows teachers to send out mass text messages directly to the student’s phone reminding them of homework assignments, tests, projects, etc. These reminders allow students to stay on track and remain organized. Melvin ends with stating that Palo Alto High School could start a revolution and change the way cell phones are used in academics (Melvin). These benefits definitely outweigh the risks.
Another opposing argument is the dangers of having social media in the classroom. With every student’s cellphone, comes multiple social media sites. Social media in the classroom could potentially be alarming. Three main reasons social media is bad are the increasing bully problems, excessive time spent on the internet, and the overall dangers of it (Bowen). First, the internet is commonly known as a bully zone. It is undeniably easier for students to bully on social media, because they seem fearless behind the protection of a screen. The Cyberbullying Research Center reports that in 2010, 20 percent of students reported being the victims of cyberbullying, and just as many admitted to being cyberbullies. The group notes other studies place these estimates as high as 40 percent (Bowen).
Not only does the center offer resources for teachers to help prevent online bullying but resources such as, lessons filled with material on internet safety, written out ways for teachers/parents to approach students, and lists of warning signs (Bowen). Next, social media can be overused and waste a lot of time. Having cell phones in classrooms is seen as a distraction. In a study by Harvard University they discovered students themselves realize that cell phone usage does not promote learning; in one survey, 80% of students agreed that using a mobile phone in class decreases their ability to pay attention (Technology and Student Distraction). Allowing cell phones in school just makes it harder for students to pay attention and learn the things they need to. This article claims that cell phones are not only a distraction for the user of the mobile device, but also a distraction to the students around them (Technology and Student Distraction). In several surveys, students have reported that the use of cell phones is a distraction to student nearby (Technology and Student Distraction).
Students already struggle to pay attention throughout the whole class, so all it would take is a student becoming bored with the content for them to pick up their phone and starting texting, playing games, or scroll through social media. Students who own a social media account know how easy it is to spend hours and hours scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, watching video after video, or even getting tuned into a new game, etc. The last point is just how dangerous the internet is. A statement from the teachers and staff of the teachthought website says, yes, the Internet is chock full of inappropriate images and language, viruses and scams (Bowen). This is a very valid point. Why allow students to use these cellphones inside a classroom when schools should be doing their best to protect them from things like this?
On the other hand, administrators and teachers can find many different ways to prevent social media from becoming such a distraction. Setting strict and defined rules in the classroom will keep cell phones from wasting time. These rules include things such as when and how cellphones can be used and carefully choosing the correct tools that benefit the student educationally. In the same article used above, the counter argument for technology in the classrooms claims that instead of banning the use of the internet and social media, it would benefit the students to incorporate it (Technology and Student Distraction). Teachers could use social media as a platform to tell their students to ask their friends questions and see how much they know about a topic. Engaged students are more successful. Social media allows students to broaden their interaction with their peers as well as their creativity (Bowen). Engaging students in this way leads to improvement in learning. Also, one very important thing is that social media teaches important life lessons.
According to the same teachers and staff members from the teachthought website, In November 2013, a school counselor named Julie Culp posted a photo of herself on Facebook holding a sign that asked anyone viewing it to like and share the image. Her goal: To teach students how quickly photos and ideas can spread online (Bowen). This story then goes on to explain that, The Huffington Post, the image was shared more than 16,000 times and liked more than 600,000 times in the first week alone. By embracing social media, educators like Culp can teach students how to use these tools appropriately (Bowen). This story is a great lesson to teach young adults. Many students do not understand the effects of their social media post. Once you post them, they are online forever. Also, future colleges, jobs, etc. could possibly check on what has been posted. These posts could very well dictate potential scholarships and career opportunities. In these future jobs, these students will be expected to work well with others and remain professional. An author named Bowen states, By using social media, teachers provide students with a head start on developing this important skill since most may find it easier to share their ideas in what feels like a less personal setting (Bowen). This type of technology allows students to interact that normally would not. This leads students to develop more responsibility, greater social skills, and longer lasting success (Bowen). Although some count only the risks, the benefits of social media go far beyond. Using technology correctly and more effectively in the classroom will allow students to become more successful.
In addition, out of the many reasons cellphones benefit education inside of the classroom, the biggest benefit is the sense of safety it provides. For all students, teachers, and most importantly parents if anything were to happen inside of the school the best thing for a student to have is their cellphone. Their cellphone allows them to faster access to help, and that is the most important thing. As dark and scary as it sounds, you never know what could happen and without cellphones in the classroom students lose communication with the outside world. In an article written by Allison Miles, she talks about how she wants her young kids to have cellphones for this very reason (Miles). She ends her article with the statement that she would rather take her chances and provide her kids with that extra sense of security and education than to be sorry (Miles).
In conclusion schools just cannot refuse the use of cell phones in the classroom with all the proof of how beneficial they are. Cellphones are only leading students more towards success in their future by providing and teaching many different tools and lessons. Middle school, high-school and college campuses continue to do the best they can to improve learning, but they are leaving out one of their most valuable tools. Even though there are some strong reasons against them, cell phones provide students with a larger variety of learning tools, better organization, faster access to questions, a greater sense of security, and the opportunity to become more responsible; therefore, cell phones should be used for educational purposes in middle school, high school, and college class rooms.
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