Sunday, August 18, 2013

Can We Please Stop Calling Them Cell Phones?

Can we please stop calling them cell phones?  Does anyone, other than your grandmother, have a phone that's just a phone?  "Cell phones" are really a computer that just happens to make phone calls for those folks who still make phone calls.

I bring this up as school systems across the country are struggling with outdated policies designed to keep "cell phones" out of the classrooms.  Part of the problem is those folks making decisions about policy are operating with this old "cell phone" mindset.  If that's all these devices could do, I would understand it.  After all, who wants kids making or receiving calls during your biology lecture that you have honed over the past fifteen years and have down to a science? (I couldn't resist!)  Let's work on restructuring our schema and begin to embrace the potential these devices can have on enhancing that well-worn biology lecture.

I do not know about your school/system/agency, but that ones I am familiar with are having a heck of a time trying to keep up with technology - budget constraints, new innovations every time you turn around, etc.  Meanwhile, many of our students are coming to school with "cell phones" that are even cooler (and more powerful) than ours.  Outside of school they connect and collaborate through social networks, conduct their own inquiries on the fly, and get answers to their questions in real time.  In school? Well, that's another story.  In some schools, kids go to the computer lab once a week to learn typing skills or Pixie, or some other skill that someone in this current time, or more likely the past, has deemed important for our kids' future.  Even when computers are in the classroom, their use is still controlled by the teacher, not driven by the children's curiosity, providing them with opportunities to assume control of their own learning. Many of these same kids have access to technology, albeit "off and away during the school day" in their backpacks, or the sly ones, in their pockets. Talk about a disconnect!

So, Mr. know it all blogger, what do we do?  Well, let start with the biggest hurdle, by acknowledging things are changing and that education needs to change as well.

How should kids be using technology?  How do use it?  Do you see any disconnects?  What do you do when you need information right away?  Card catalog, Dewey decimal system, wait a week for the computer lab, ask the teacher if you can use the eMac in the back of the room, or do you pull out your mobile device and just Google it?  I thought so.  Kids need the same level of access to information that we enjoy whenever we need it and that they experience outside of school.

Let's stop calling them cell phones and start giving kids the power to take more responsibility for their own learning.  "Take those smart phones out of your backpack kids.  It's time to learn!"After all, it is the 21st century, no?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You Go Latvia!

I have to give a shout out to one or more educators in Latvia.  They logged 122 page views in one week!  Pretty cool to think folks half way around the world are thinking along the same lines.  Thanks for reading.