The Great Ed Tech Debate: Cellphones in the Classroom

verchmarco Flickr via Compfight cc

During this weeks class three classmates took on the challenge of debating the statement, “Cellphones should be banned in the classroom”. Kendall debated that cellphones should always be banned in school; while Cody debated that cellphones should never be banned in school. Additionally, Tiana debated that cellphones should be allowed but only in high school. It was interesting to see how there can be so many perspectives and views on this debate. Often times, I found myself wishing there was a ‘sometimes’ category as I personally agreed with aspects of each of the debates.

Always (Kendall):

  • Use of cellphones can be disrespectful
    • Students may not be giving the teacher their undivided attention. For example, texting or scrolling through Facebook or Instagram while the teacher is trying to give instruction.
    • The use of cellphones is unprofessional (unless there is an emergency).
    • Students may not be learning the social skills required to take part in society; for example, learning social etiquette such as having a conversation without being on their phone, the ability to make small talk, etc.
  • Cheating
    • Students creativity is suppressed. For example, when drawing students want to look up how things are ‘supposed to look’ and tend to copy what they see instead of using their imagination.
    • Students have the ability to direct message one another and share their answers which can become problematic when trying to assess a student’s individual work.
    • Students have access to others work have the ability to plagiarise either with or without knowledge of have done it.
  • Disruptive/Distracting
    • Cellphones are prone to causes interruptions such as buzzing, lights, ringtones, etc.. Prior to class, I also read the article Katia shared in class. It was about a teacher who decided to conduct an experiment to see how many notifications (text messages, social media, other notifications, etc. her students received in half an hour and the results were shocking (or it was for me at least!).
    • Once disrupted it takes students time to regain focus, thus losing out on valuable instructional time.
  • Dangerous
    • Cellphones create a greater opportunity for cyberbullying to take place.
    • Cellphones pose a danger to public safety. Kendall shared an article that examines the correlation between cellphones and how communication networks can become overloaded in an emergency situation. For example, the article discusses how individuals such as parents, community members, news personal, etc. may be contacted and arrive before emergency personal has a chance to control the situation.

Never (Cody):

byronv2 Flickr via Compfight cc

Cody’s began his argument by identifying how cellphones have become a part of our everyday lives that they hold a place in society. Cody then noted that technology is constantly evolving and that the power technology holds is tremendous and that we now have essentially a computer at our fingertips.  The debate then turned towards how the use of cellphones is managed in the classroom. For example, focusing on how to use technology appropriately and implementing behavior strategies such as leaving the phone face down on the table or using a “parking system” when students leave their phone at a designated area of the class when they do not need it for educational purposes. Cody also mentioned that when dealing with issues such as cellphones it is important to have a proactive rather than a reactive response. I thought this was a great point to make as Cody then shared his personal experiences with using this approach throughout his internship. The conversation was then turned to how cellphones create ease of access to utilized amounts of resources that become accessible to students. In turn, this also allows students to look up questions they may have to find an answer when the teacher may not have one. One of the articles Cody shared spoke to how allowing students the freedom to use their cellphones instills a sense of responsibility for their learning and can even produce better results that engage students in becoming lifelong learners. One of the reasons this article resonates with me is because allowing students to use their cellphones for educational purposes create an environment where students can take charge of their own learning. Additionally, using cellphones promotes things such as Genius Hour and inquiry projects that keep students engaged in learning.

ThoseGuys119 Flickr via Compfight cc

Only in High School (Tiana):

  • Prepares students for adulthood
    • Give students the opportunity to develop good tech habits to use later in life.
    • Students are then taught mobile etiquette (when is and when is not appropriate to be using a cellular device) and safety (for example, identifying safe practices when online).
    • Having students recognize that cellphones rarely exist in workplaces.
  • Difficult to regulate
    • Some students work on laptops or tablets
    • Not every child has a cellphone
  • Diverse learning strategies
    • Lesson possibilities are enhanced with the availability of cellular devices (given they have access to the internet or data plans).
      • Tiana shared a wonderful resource that explores the possibilities using cellphones in the classroom brings. For example, it included educational tools such as Poll Everywhere and podcasts as well as identified how the use of cellphones benefits schools economically. Additionally, the article provides learning activities that can also be incorporated into everyday lessons.
    • Provides opportunities for inquiry-based learning at the clicks of a few buttons.
    • It is important to recognize cellphones aren’t always readily available so other options such as using a school computer or tablet should also be considered.

Overall, there are many pedagogical approaches to this topic and I think it is important to acknowledge the differing perspectives of educators (i.e. each teacher may have a differing view as to how or if cellphones are used in the classroom as is their own educational philosophies). Great job to all debaters you did a wonderful job exploring this controversial topic!


4 thoughts on “The Great Ed Tech Debate: Cellphones in the Classroom

  1. Ms.Sydney McGrath

    Hi Katelyn! I think you raised a really great point at recognizing the decisions relies on the perspectives and beliefs the educator holds to the topic. Some educators may use cellphones in the classroom to their advantage, while others may see them only as a distraction! It is hard to say what I will end up doing in my classroom, it will be different being in the younger grades so I am leaning more towards cellphones not in my classroom because not all of my students will yet have access to their personal device!


  2. Hey Katlyn!
    I think you have done a wonderful job with this post! You have really inspired me to do some thinking in regards to how different teachers have different perspectives on these policies. This is definitely a tricky topic to navigate, as there is no simple solution to be given that will be accepted by all. With that being said, I think that it is okay that not everyone agrees. There are so many amazing points to be made on each side so I almost feel like it would be nearly impossible to agree 100% with one side or the other!
    I really like the format of your post, as it is really easy to read and follow along with! Great work with that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Kaytlyn,
    Like Sydney and Lauren said, you did a fantastic job summarizing this weeks’ debate (which was very hard just because there was so much that seemed important to share, at least that’s what I thought). You raised valid points about how approaching cellphones in the classroom can be negative or positive. For instance, you mentioned how cheating with a cellphone can be an idea of stealing another’s idea of how something is “supposed to look” just by searching the image off of Google. I never thought of this approach being bad, but as you mentioned, it prevents students from being creative. With this debate, I am still unsure of how I want to incorporate cellphones. As I want to teach secondary students, I do plan on allowing cellphones into the classroom but I am thinking of having limitations such as only being on them during work periods and face-down during lessons. But I will not commit to this decision until I am in the classroom more!
    Until next time,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jayden! I would agree that it is difficult to make a decision such as this without being in the classroom, I think it is wise that you are keeping growth mindset with this concept.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s