It’s the first thing we see when we wake up. The last thing we look at before we sleep. It is in our hand during nearly every waking moment. It is our main point of connection to our friends and our family. We use it for work and for play.
Phones are everywhere. 90% of teenagers own one and almost this number use them constantly. But what should their role be in the classroom? Arguably, smart phones should be utilised for learning. They are a means to fact check with efficiency and a brilliant pedagogic tool. But studies show that their drawbacks outweigh any potential benefits for learning.
- Phones are everywhere
The ubiquity of smart phones is exactly why they should be banned from school. School should be the one place that students are not constantly checking their social media. School should be the one place where students do not have to be constantly in touch. A third of schools in Britain already ban mobiles, and for good reason. Teaching is hard enough, and if students are allowed to use their personal mobile devices, they become one more thing for teachers to fight with for their attention.
- Phones separate students, not bring them together
Technology can be fantastic when it is used appropriately. However, personal mobile usage is detrimental because it means not everyone is focused on the same exercise. These social networks breed competition between young people, not solidarity.
A study by the London School of Economics in May found that banning mobile phones from classrooms could benefit the student’s learning by almost an extra week of classes over an academic year, benefitting low-achieving children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds the most.
- Phones are distracting
We are addicted to smart phones because they are incredibly successful at what they do. They are fun, vibrant and colourful. They make us feel wanted.
For this reason, teachers need to work harder to make their lessons interesting and interactive. We need to try and compete with technology to make school dynamic and interesting. One person standing in front of a class, lecturing them on a given topic, isn’t always the best way forward. If our attention span really is changing – thanks to smart phone and computer usage – then we should try and adapt lessons accordingly. Short, snappy exercises, videos and games should be used as much as possible.
Technology can, of course, be very useful. Projectors, computers and tablets can enhance the learning experience, engage the children, and bring learning forward into this century. However, personal devices distract students, trapping them in their various social media worlds. They can no longer focus on the task at hand.
Technology, rather than hindering education, should be assessed and utilised to improve education standards. We should also learn from the methods that make personal devices so engaging and addictive, and apply them to lessons.