The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes
I recently attended back to school night at my son’s high school and was greeted in his first period class by a teacher whose first message to us was that there was a strict “No Cell Phone” policy. The teacher’s rationale was that, “We grew up without cell phones and we turned out great, so why can’t kids today do the same?”
I have so many reactions to this statement, but all of them center around the idea that we have to be willing to challenge ourselves to step out of what is familiar to us and remember that we live in a world so incredibly different from the one in which we were raised, and if we don’t make the adjustment, we simply will not be as effective as educators and our students will not have access to technology that can support and enhance, if done well, their learning.
In thinking more deeply about this issue, I came up with an alternative to the “No Cell Phone” policy. How about a “Small Powerful Learning Device” policy? I read an article about a month ago that stated that if the iPhone existed in 1980, it would have been the most powerful computer in the world at that time. How can we not allow students to use such a valuable resource to increase their ability to learn more and faster, especially when we consider that our students will likely be expected to be experts in the use of various technologies when they enter the workforce?
I am proud to say that in Santa Ana Unified School District, the cell phone issue is largely resolved. This issue we now have to address is how do we use small powerful learning devices (cell phones, lPads, laptops, Chromebooks, etc.) and not do more damage than good. As I have walked classrooms in our schools, I have noticed in some cases, less collaboration, less oral language, and less engagement with text as a result of the presence of technology. This is a negative unintended consequence of the increase of technology in classrooms, but there is the potential for solutions. In SAUSD, we have the Learning Innovation with Technology department under Alex Ito that can help provide ideas for how to embed technology effectively to support learning. We also have a great graphic (see below) to help guide your thinking and consider key questions around Purposeful Use of Technology.
The use of technology in teaching and learning is among the most important issues in education today, so it may be worth reflecting, studying, and having conversations with your school team to help increase understanding of the issue and begin planning how best to support the development of a Small Powerful Learning Device policy at your school site.