Try going anywhere urban and see if you can find someone without a smartphone or connected device of some kind. Virtually impossible in today’s wired(less) world. This holds true for schools as well. Both staff and student alike connected 24/7. This holds both potential and pitfalls for our education system.
Student information systems have been a part of everyday life for school staff for well over 20 years now. With this the presence of computers in the classroom has become a must. Teachers are required to input attendance daily and marks on an ongoing basis. Administrative staff use the system daily to adjust schedules, lookup demographic info, schedule courses, etc. Our reliance on computers has taken hold in some classrooms with teachers adopting connected tech to engage students.
Fast forward to 2016 and smartphones are a reality in every classroom (to varying degrees depending on socio-economic circumstances). What are we doing to harness the potential devices walking into our classrooms each and every day? Is there a sign on the door claiming no phones allowed? Is there a bucket at the front of the class where phones are deposited? Are students encouraged to record homework using Evernote or OneNote? Are apps like Remind being used to keep students on top of upcoming assignments? Is Google translator being used to help students understand a new language? Are videos being created to demo dissections in a biology class?
From my experience the reality is all of the above. Yes there are still the classrooms where devices are taboo and must be kept out of site but there are those classrooms that fully utilize the potential of these powerful portable computers. As an educator with a distinct bias towards use of technology to enhance both teaching and learning I cringe every time a device is handed to me after being confiscated. Students have a responsibility to ensure they are being responsible in their use of smartphones by not texting or snapchatting during class but we as educators also must recognize that these devices are here to stay and we can either resist or realize the Borg were right all along.