Can mobile phones help learning in schools?

Pretty clear - but helpful?
Pretty clear - but helpful?

At the beginning of the academic year I had to sign up to my kid’s school (anti) mobile phone policy. Effectively it banned the use of mobile devices during school hours. The reason was to combat things like cyber bullying and other types of misuse. Worthwhile objectives, but I’m not sure how enforceable it is. I remember the failure of the smoking and gambling bans imposed at my schools years ago. Also, there’s plenty of time and opportunity to misuse mobile phones outside of school hours.

This got me thinking about, is this a lost learning opportunity? The kids are sitting in the classroom with a high-tech communications device sat in their pockets – but I’ve signed a piece of paper that makes sure it’s switched off or not available. Doh!

Searching around on the topic I came across this  video by Zenna Atkins former Chair of Ofsted and an advisor with Amongst some really good things she spoke about was the use of mobile phones in schools. Yes, most schools banned them for logical and noble objectives, however one school in England insisted that the kids brought them to school, and used them.

Although this was a relatively deprived area, 99% of kids had a phone. The the school and kids used them in a number of ways; for example to alert the kids to changes in the school timetable, “science yr 2a moved from B12 to gym “.  A handy method for sending out homework reminders (boo!), or a global notice that the school is closed because of the snow (hurrah!). In addition the school apparently could ‘see’ who was on the premises, or bunking off from the Bluetooth signature…… interesting?

This got me looking at the wider learning opportunities and there are a few interesting examples out there (unfortunately none I could find from Wales, open to offers though)

There are a few more examples out there, see this blog by George Engel on Learning with Mobile Technology. Unfortunately though it doesn’t seem to be common practice. Strange really. In other aspect of their life my kids are totally dependent on their mobile phones and DLC (downloadable content), learning all sorts of useful things (apparently).  Yet, they are sitting in school with a sophisticated communications device in their pockets (which I pay for), and I’ve signed a piece of paper insisting they switch off. Doh!, again.  A lost opportunity for engaging them in more targeted and effective learning?

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. There are huge learning opportunities that could be opened up using the mobile devices that 99% of kids seem to carry.
  2. Completely banning mobile devices in school isn’t the answer and it’s probably unenforceable anyway.
  3. Mobile devices are an under used direct route to the target audience for learning (pupils). Why not use it, and not just during school hours?

Picture Source: This is from the informative blog by George Engel on Learning with Mobile Technology. Lots of useful links.

Also check out

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

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