Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Questions from the back-channel

I recently gave a lecture where I had a back channel for students to make comments and ask questions. I was arguing that schools should be more open to using technology like pupils' mobile phones to support learning and teaching.


Noo Possession
Originally uploaded by Saad.Akhtar
However, in the back channel there were a number of comments/questions expressing concern about the potential disruption this could bring. Some of the messages are copied below.
  • do you not think mobie phones used in the class distract pupils from learning ?

  • phones maybe a useful piece of kit but as proven wit happy slappin it is a dangerous piece of kit

  • is this not open to abuse such as 'sir your a pure knob'?

  • the porn comment is why we switch off phones
    {Note: Concerns about accessing pornography were raised verbally as well as in at least one other message. Given the recent court case, should we add taking inappropriate pictures to this comment? - DM}

  • What about child protection stuff? Are pupils and parents happy for photos and videos to be taken on phones in class and posted online?
I've already responded to all the comments but how would you answer these concerns?

9 comments:

rogerneilson said...

Three angles:
1. What specifically of the above concerns cannot also be applied to the medium of print, or publications? I recall naghty magazines etc being passed round at school surreptitiously, I recall muttered commnents about teachers that could be half heard but denied, I recall a lot of bullying. Stuff that is done in any digital media leaves an audit trail back to the originator, therefore easier to bring to attention and prove.
2. They have the technology anyway, its just on 'silent' and in bags or pockets, better to have it out in the open and talked through re appropriateness.
3. Instead of drawing up a list of reasons why to not allow, try drawing up a list of positive uses... then compare the lists....

David said...

I like number 3! Thanks for this.

Anyone else want to pitch in?

Joe said...

with Roger on this.
Learning Community should have rules about usage porn from corner shop, internet or mobile phone unacceptable in classroom - learners should manage this - as well as broader acceptable use policy - which should cover conduct etc

Bob Hill said...

I agree with Roger, particularly No.3. I may be naive but I think that allowing pupils to use technology in a positive way which interests them in learning should reduce inappropriate use, at least in the classroom.

However as ever, the inspiring teacher will have no problems. A teacher with a poor relationship with the pupils will get "aggro" with or without technology.

margaret vass said...

Interestingly, I once asked a primary 7 class what good uses they could think of for using a mobile phone in class. They brainstormed in groups and we came up with this 'bubbleshare' presentation (I'm hoping the link will work when I press the publish button).

http://carronshore.edublogs.org/?s=mobile+phones

I'm so glad I found your post, because it reminded me that I only have a short while left to rescue the children's pictures before Bubbleshare disappears .... I also noticed that the actual bubbleshare 'show' has been viewed 12568 times. I'll think it deserves to be put on another webspace and shared again :-)

Mr said...

I am in two minds (never a good thing) about this subject. Part of me thinks that ideas about looking up 'bum' in a dictionary would not have led to you being banned from using a dictionary are totally valid. I think the concerns most people have stem from the idea that this sort of tech is two way.

Using other forms of media for inappropriate uses is a one-way transaction. Mobiles, internet etc is much more two-way; I think this is what gets people worried. I do agree with roger that there is an audit trail but the damage that can be done, and in such a short time, can be considerable.

The other thoughts I have on this just make me think that we are just nervous due to the pace of change and unfamiliarity we have. However, if we don't accept that this is part of the world and do something to cope with it then we will be left behind. Ever seen the poster about the wave of change?

john.maclean said...

As a new teacher (concept of "new" is interesting here, being older than UNIVAC II) I am finding positive benefits from pupils' mobile phone technology. At a basic level, everyone in my science class has a timer and a calculator, even if they've forgotten their calculator. Also, some pupils have created some wonderful colours from plant dyes when using them as acid/alkali indicators, elderberry being particularly stunning. Pupils can easily take colour photographs of their work, and are very excited about being able to make this instant record. Finally, I previously used mobile phone polling to allow pupils to vote for revision topics, to give feedback on what topics need covered most.
All great stuff, and I look forward to embracing the technology that pupils will use anyway, whatever teachers may say. However, sad to say, given a general nervousness and antipathy towards allowing pupils to use some technologies, including phones, the safest approach is to allow no use at all of phones ever. Just in case. So that's what I'll do.
I'm looking foward to the future.

Elaine said...

Thought it might be useful to start a health debate about use of mobile phones. This is from NHS website. Perhaps children should
be informed of these tips also. Particularly if under 16....


Only make short calls on your mobile phone and do not use it more than necessary.
Children should only use mobile phones if absolutely necessary.
Find out the specific absorption rate (SAR) of a mobile phone before you buy it. This is how much radio wave energy is absorbed into the body from the mobile phone, and it can vary between different phones. Mobile phone retailers have a responsibility to make this information available to you before you buy.
Keep your mobile phone away from your body when it is in standby mode.
Only use your phone when the reception is strong - this is often indicated by bars of energy on your phone screen. Weak reception causes the phone to use more energy to communicate with the base station.
Use a mobile phone that has an external antenna. This keeps the radio waves as far away from your head as possible.

The Department for Transport recommends the following guidelines for safe use of mobile phones in cars.

Keep your mobile phone switched off when you are driving. Remember that you can use voicemail, a message service, or call diversion to pick up your messages at the end of your journey.
If you need to use your mobile phone, stop in a safe place. Do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway, unless it is an emergency.
Avoid using a hands-free device. These can be just as distracting as using the phone itself.
Last reviewed: 02/04/2008

Next review due: 02/04/2010

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