Of 100 teachers, 97 of them said that their school had a policy that highly restricted cell phone use during school hours (either banning them completely or restricting their use to non-academic times). Yet in the same survey 40 of the teachers said they were using cell phones in learning, and 87 teachers said they would like to use cell phones for learning in their schools in the future. While this is not a scientific survey, it was just a quick random survey of educators on Twitter, the results do speak to a need for a change in acceptable use policies.
One of the reasons teachers tell me they are not interested in using cell phones in learning is because their schools' acceptable use policy does not allow cell phones in the classroom.
Probably the most common question that I have been asked by teachers who are interested in using cell phones in learning is, "how do I go about changing my schools' acceptable use policy to include cell phones?"
While I have often given some suggestions, I recently came across Uni High. Uni is a school in Urbana, Il that has propsed a new, more cell phone friendly AUP.
Here is a blurb of the new policy proposal
I think this policy is an excellent example of a policy that can keep structure and restaints around using cell phones inappropriately, while as the same time give classroom teachers the option to use them in their teaching and learning.
Mobile Device Policy
Students may have silenced mobile devices on their person. The use of communication features on cellular devices during instructional time, or in a disruptive manner in the school atmosphere, is prohibited.
Each teacher has the right to allow the use of mobile devices (e.g. cell phones, laptops, iPods, personal data assistants) during instructional time.
The use of cell phones in the hallway is prohibited, as it is considered a disruption to classes taking place. Nondisruptive cell phone use is allowed in the stairwells.
Students are permitted to use mobile devices, including cell phones, in the student lounge for the remainder of the first semester of 2008. This is a probationary period after which SFAC will make a recommendation to the administration and the faculty for future use of mobile devices.
Students may continue to use mobile devices in the stairwells of Uni.
Now a few things on my wish list to go along with the aup for cell phones...
1) Teaching mobile etiquette, safety, and legalise
2) Training teachers on academic uses for cell phones (lets' give our inservice and preservice teachers the professional development they need to effectively integrate cell phones).