Pogue shared a letter that’s got me all riled up again…

I’m a high school teacher. Like all high schools, we are dealing with a problem that sucks time, energy, and resources like a black hole: cellphones. We waged a similar battle a few years back with iPods, and although stakes seem much higher now, the fundamental argument is the same. The argument is:

1] cellphones are a distraction
2] cellphones present a potential liability in terms of cheating on tests
3] cellphones are a distraction

So I’m asking for some insight on how to sell this to an administration that is overwhelmed with a hundred more important things, and to a school board that feels that two $500 computers are twice as good as one $1,000 machine. What’s the answer?

I’m so fed up with these arguments. Paper clips are a distraction. Spiral notebooks are a distraction. And as we’ve seen recently, students certainly do NOT need a cell phone to cheat on an exam.

So off the top of my head, I decided to rattle off a few things that cell phones could be good for.

Such as…
1) Check the spelling/definition of a word
2) Research a topic
3) Look up reference images
4) Pull up maps (even with satellite imagery)
5) Document a science lab with built in digital camera/video
6) Fact check on the fly
7) Mail questions to the teacher that they might be embarrassed to ask
8) Classroom response system
9) Take quizzes
10) Record and/or listen to podcasts

And that’s off the top of my head, spur of the moment. Give me some time and I’m sure we can come up with a much more comprehensive list.

So let’s stop exerting so much energy trying to ‘bust’ students for carrying the same devices the rest of us carry. Rather, let’s start focusing on how we can use them to improve education in the classroom. You know, prepare them for the world and such…