Nathanial Garrod

Phones & Classrooms

During my internship this past summer, I read a few books on innovation which have had me thinking since then. One of the examples in one of the books was the city of Detroit, once the pinnacle of innovation and creativity in the United States. This city thrived on the ingenuity of car makers and became well-known. Yet in more recent years, Detroit has become a less valuable place. Its standing as an icon is one that exists firmly in the past and less so in the present. The book cited that this was due to a lack of innovation. Carmakers did their thing and did it the same.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a colleague who, in the course of conversation, brought up the point that if you showed Alexander Graham Bell a modern telephone he would be confused. Yet if you took Socrates to a modern classroom, he would smile and nod with familiarity. As I have thought and reflected on this statement, I have realized that while these two examples were pulled randomly, but are in some way connected.

We live in a world where students are attached to their cellphones and iPads and laptops but once they walk into a classroom, we ask them to put them away. Stay focused, do your work, do not text in class.

“That’s a distraction.”
“It’s not an appropriate part of the learning environment.”
“It’s rude to your classmates.”

I think there is a point where we need to stop this, and instead of creating a barbaric wall against the use of technology in our learning spaces, we need to begin considering ways we can use the technology to orient students towards learning. Smart phones and tablets are not going away anytime soon, so as educators – at all levels – we have a responsibility to teach students how to situate learning with their devices.

What are your thoughts? Do you think education and technology need be used more in tandem? How should this be executed?

3 Comments on “Phones & Classrooms

  1. Britney
    April 9, 2013

    When I gave presentations to Freshman Orientation classes at NOC I used I will be utilizing it when I teach 3 sections of Freshman orientation in the Fall as well. It allows students to text in answer to polls, and it live-updates on the powerpoint slide. It’s awesome! I start out the beginning of my presentation with “DON’T put your phones away.”

    • Chip
      April 9, 2013

      This is a great approach.

  2. Chip
    April 9, 2013

    Yes, execution is the key. I think educators will be going away before smartphones and tablets. But, seriously, I do feel that many people in general are addicted to smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tables in a similar way to people being addicted to cigarettes. I’ve often considered giving people a “cell phone break” instead of the old school “cigarette break”. They can certainly be used for educational purposes (smart phones and tablets), however, the addictive quality of the technology and how it is used has always been what concerned me so I ended up taking a more mellow approach which was, essentially, as long as it was not disruptive I didn’t mind that much when I realized some students seemed psychologically addicted to the technology. And sometimes I would ask them to look up info using the devices. Then again, I had professors who would not allow eating in class. Different teachers, different rules.

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