Mobile Phones in Schools

An incredible creative learning tool or distraction machine to impede learning?

At the risk of dating myself, just before the turn of the last century, I remember giving a presentation at the school, where I was Head of ICT / Cross Curricular ICT development, to all the staff about … WAP phones. I remember describing a device that soon all learners would have in their pockets that could potentially answer any question a teacher might be able to think up in class and for homework. I challenged the teachers to reflect on what impact this might have on their everyday teaching and the children’s learning.

That not only feels like a long time ago, but also felt like I was describing an amazing sci-fi futuristic world. It was over five years later that I got my first mobile phone which ‘only’ made and received phone calls. It was yet another few years later before I had my first iPhone which really brought the vision I described in 1999 to a reality.

There has been much said recently by the incumbent Education Secretary, the DfE and media about the role of mobile phones in schools.  We thought it would be helpful to provide some simple clear thinking on this topic and have reflected that there are so many schools that already have good practice and facilitating policies to enhance individual learner access to creative online tools through the use of personal mobile phones.

 Meic Griffiths  (Executive Headteacher of the Imperium Federation) has succinctly summarised some helpful advice for all schools regardless of their context in this short video clip below:

The key points are:

  1. Mobile phones do not cause bad behaviour but unclear policies do
  2. Ensure you have a clear policy about phones in school  to maximise the chances of everyone being able to understand and therefore adhere to it
  3. Lockdown has impacted negatively  on some children and their social skills development; we need to help them with developing an understanding of what appropriate behaviour  is and that includes responsible and positive use of phones both in and out of school.

A brave new world?

If we got in a time machine and went back to post war Britain some 50+ years ago and we described a world where every learner had a pocket device that could make, edit and view HD videos, record, edit and playback any sounds, take high resolution photographs and allow you to speak to, hear and watch anyone regardless of location in the world instantly … what do you think the reaction might be?

And just imagine if we said that the education policy from the Government of the time was to recommend banning such technology in case it disrupted student learning.

What might they think and how might the future seem to those post war learners and teachers? Not a very brave new world I suspect…..!

Further reading from LGfL on this topic:

Written by Bob Usher (Content Manager at LGfL)