Teachers Using Cell Phones As Educational Tool

Filed under: In The News

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Students once banned from using their cell phones in class are now being asked to use them for school work. Credit: khedara, Flickr.

Teachers who once viewed cell phones as their natural enemy are now embracing them as a technological tool that can stand in for more expensive equipment like laptop computers.

Once banned from most classrooms, mobile phones are now being used to help with lessons, according to The Associated Press. Teachers are encouraging students to use their phones to record foreign-language assignments, take photos for class projects and to access the Internet from Web-enabled smart phones.Much ado has been made over kids using cell phones in class for nefarious activities like cheating or taking inappropriate photos. However, the technology is now such an ingrained part of teen and tween culture that teachers are beginning to take advantage of what are essentially mini-computers -- computers that are often too expensive for districts on a tight budget.

"It really is taking advantage of the love affair that kids have with technology today," Dan Domevech, executive director of the nonprofit American Association of School Administrators, tells the AP. "The kids are much more motivated to use their cell phone in an educational manner."

Some districts still keep a tight rein on cell-phone use in school, but even those with zero-tolerance policies are starting to rethink their strategies.

"We can't get away from it," says Bill Husfelt, superintendent of Bay County District Schools, a Florida Panhandle district of 27,000 students where cell phones aren't allowed in school. "But we've got to do a lot more work in trying to figure out how to stop the bad things from happening."

By 2008, 71 percent of teens owned a cell phone, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That statistic is relatively unaffected by factors like race and income, meaning that even low-income families have access to technologies like wireless Internet and smart phones, the AP reports.

Schools are still wary of phones in class and still plan to manage cell-phone use carefully. In the Bay County school district, seven students were arrested recently after a fight on campus that allegedly began with text messages, the AP reports.

Does using cell phones for academic purposes open the door for bad behavior, or is it a smart way to harness a growing technology?

Related: Your Cell Can Help You Stay Well, Cell Phone Etiquette for Teens

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