Right and wrong time to use a cellphone in class

Four out of five teachers know what this student is doing.

Photo from Blaise Alleyne - http://flic.kr/p/6xJSQL

After working on a presentation for my students about using mobile devices in school, there are a few things I’ve decided to emphasize when I talk to them at the start of new school year.

  1. Teachers can usually tell when students are sneaking looks at their mobile devices.
  2. When they’re using a mobile device, I’m going to expect students to ask themselves, “Is this really the right time?”
  3. If they have to sneak, it is the wrong time to be using a mobile device in class.

So when is it okay to use mobile devices in class? Simple. Anytime teachers think that it can help students learn.

Mobile devices have quickly become part of our daily life. A quick text message can put sites like Google to work for our students without a trip to the computer lab. More and more students will start the new school year with smart phones that run apps that make text messaging look like a stone tablet when we look at how engaging and functional they are. We need to put these devices to good use.

The trade-off for integrating these tools into the classroom is that we’ll have to teach students when it is and is not appropriate to use mobile devices in class.  I think these lessons are worth it. And who knows, maybe our lessons in restraint will stick with students when they’re at movie theaters, restaurants, dinner tables, or even their own graduation ceremony.