Friday, May 20, 2011

Phones In The Classroom

Whether we recognize social media or not, it's all around us. Students are glued to their cell phones. Clothes are being made that incorporate an easier way to use your cell phone. Phones, like other pieces of technology, are not evil by themselves; it's how you use them. How do I know the student is texting the entire class period? What if the student is taking notes on his phone? What if another student is tweeting ideas from the lecture on her phone? In these simple examples, nothing has been mentioned that would take away from the integrity of the classroom. By encouraging my students to tweet thoughts and questions from my lecture, the discussion continues well beyond the classroom. Cell phones and laptops are very useful tools that, when used appropriately, can add an immense value to overall learning environment. I realize there may be some old-school professors that think all you need is a yellow notepad, a pen, a textbook, and an open mind in class. Well, this may have once been true, but things have changed. Students today don't learn the same way. If they are real students of whatever discipline you teach, they are looking up information online, asking questions in forums, and yes, even tweeting about ideas. This is a very information heavy generation. Some say Google has made us dumber. The truth is we have made ourselves dumber because we rely on Google for answers instead of feeding them to ourselves. With a more proactive approach of research to learn as apposed to research (if it can be called that) to get a quick answer our students will truly be students. Offering cell phones in the classroom can, in my opinion, open up the classroom for a very challenging discussion.

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