A Wireless Classroom

This week Time magazine printed their “Wireless Issue”. In this day and age wireless technology, such as Smart Phones and iPads are used in everything from banking to health care, and even the 2012 election. With all the ways in which mobile devices are being used in the real world, it comes as no shock to hear that some schools are working to incorporate the gadgets in student learning. Time’s article, “Gadgets go to Class”, takes a look at the benefits and drawbacks associated with using wireless devices in the classroom. Many real world tasks are accomplished with the use of cell phones; allowing kids to use cell phone to aid their learning would be relevant and would help prepare them for life after school. Many companies are working to create apps which could be used like iclickers to provide “real-time information” of comprehension to teachers. The schools described in this article have employed a “BYOT” (Bring Your Own Technology) policy where students can access school networks, under strict supervision, with their own mobile devices. The article argues that “even for kids from poor neighborhoods, cell phones have become nearly biological appendages.” The problems with using cell phones in schools are mainly legal. Phone could be used for bullying, sexting, or making inappropriate phone calls, leading to lawsuits. More specifically, schools could be going against the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The law states that if schools do not adequately monitor online activity of minors, they could lose federal funding. Finally, BYOT becomes an equality issue. Not all families are able to afford the smart phones or iPads which would run educational apps.

I believe that while there are many roadblocks in the way of creating tech-savvy classrooms, it is worth the trouble to overcome them. The ultimate purpose of education is to prepare students to become successful contributors to society. Because technology is such an integral part of life today it is imperative that it becomes part of the classroom too. I have heard many people argue that it is important to teach students to perform tasks manually, like looking words up in a dictionary. I personally think that these skills are important, but when are you ever going to perform such a task in your job? To prepare students for the working world, we, as educators, must provide them with the tools and skills they need to be successful; i.e. using of mobile devices. The legal issues concerning mobile devices in education are a serious matter but I believe that there are ways around them. Nearly all schools have computer labs or computer cart systems which students use. If they are able to monitor computer usage in alliance with these federal laws, then I believe that it would be possible to do so with mobile devices as well. I believe that if students are given intriguing and meaningful work to perform on their devices, they will be more inclined to pay attention and to use mobile devices appropriately. Many students currently use cell phones in class to text or access Facebook despite restrictions made by the school. If educators redirect students’ activity to educational purposes, the kids will still be able to employ their devices, but rather, towards productive learning.

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