ICT & Computing in Education

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The Importance of Mobile Phones in Education

Teenager Ethan Davids describes how essential his phone is to him.

EthanFrom listening to music, to taking and editing pictures of teachers, the young community have found various ways to misuse the new technology being made available to them in such small and compact mobile phones. Obviously, anything that can disrupt learning, or teaching, cannot be accepted in a classroom environment and should be dealt with accordingly. It is my opinion that as technology advances at such a blistering pace, policies such as ‘mobile phones should be switched off and in your bag’, can be modified to benefit not only students, but teachers and schools alike.

As a student who has experienced some very rowdy and distracting classes, I know that mobile phones can cause huge distractions for not only students, but teachers as well. I am also aware that mobile phones can be a danger to the school environment; however I believe they can still have their benefits in the classroom.

As a very proud owner of an Apple iPhone 3G, I could rave all day about the importance of my mobile phone. It keeps me in contact wherever I go, which not only gives me peace of mind, but also my parents! An argument I have never understood is that youngsters have become too reliant on their mobiles. Nowadays mobile phones can be as useful to people as a pencil and paper, and I have never come across an argument that adults have become too reliant on those!

The ability to download ‘apps’ to phones such as the iPhone can also make it not only personalised, but useful for people in most situations. From word processing software to a program that keeps an eye on the stock market, the range of potential uses can just not be argued with. For example, instead of waking up tired and grumpy, I use an advanced alarm clock to measure my sleeping patterns which also wakes me up when I am sleeping at my lightest. Not entirely necessary, but this could still be beneficial to anybody!

So if this level of technology can benefit from city workers to journalists, why can it not be taken advantage of at school? I have numerously thought to myself in lessons such as Spanish and English that if it was accepted for me to use my phone, my learning could be improved. Instead of taking out a dictionary, I could simply use my translator, and instead of trawling through books for a piece of literature, I could find the book online and be directed to a specific word, and so on. The fact is that these phones are really just computers, yet I am unaware of a school that is reluctant to allow the use of these.

I'm not naïve; firstly not everybody has such an advanced phone and secondly, there are bound to be people who will take advantage. But as technology becomes cheaper, more people will invest in this equipment, and surely the people who take advantage of the leniency would use their phone regardless of new measures?

Schools themselves are modernising greatly. My present school, for instance, is in the process of becoming an academy. This means that from September 2010 it will no longer be classed as a ‘school’, and by 2013 it hopes to have established completely new buildings. I am part of a group of students who have listened to the new plans, and I was impressed with the new technology being considered. Ideas such as giving each student a laptop and registering attendance online are being planned already. I think it is fantastic that schools are finally ‘getting with the times’ and are understanding the importance of ICT in education! Eventually I hope mobile phones will be looked upon in a much more reasonable way and take a more important role in education. After all, there’s only so much fun you can have with editing teachers’ faces!

Ethan is a Year 11 (17 years old) student who is currently preparing for his final GCSE (High School graduation) exams. He is a huge lover of football, and Manchester United. He hopes to carry on his education to university where he hopes to study Law and French.

This is a slightly amended version of an article which first appeared in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter. The next issue is a games-based learning special, and we're running a prize draw to give away 2 marvellous prizes. More on that later today.

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(c) Terry Freedman