Friday, May 21, 2010

Does banning cell phones in school cause more problems than integrating them?

"Thomas" a student who read my blog, posted this comment:

"The whole having to hide the cell phone is really why so many students are not able to pay attention. If we were allowed our cell phones as we work, we would pay a lot more attention, since we don't have to keep glancing down at the cell phone we are currently hiding under a table. I am able to avoid the whole messaging thing during school, but if they allowed it i have the feeling my grades would go higher, and my learning would improve"

What are your thoughts? Do you think that by not allowing cell phones in the classroom it causes more issues with distraction than by allowing them?


Jan said...

I think one has to face reality. You can´t really ban cell phones from lectures or classes.
Like Thomas said the only thing you can do is to get them hidden. Students are used to listen and work with the phones so maybe problems will start only when they also have to pay attention for not getting caught.
And maybe...if your lecture is really good nobody really feels like using his cell phone...

Best wishes, Jan

Anonymous said...

As an educator, I find it hypocritical when I attend professional training and see most teachers texting or playing games on their cell phones during the training. The worst offending teachers are usually the ones who are the most militant about punishing students for cell phone use during class time.

Educators need to wise up and find ways to use cell phones as teaching and learning tools. Cell phones are everywhere, parents allow them, educators and school systems need to embrace them and find ways to use cell phones to enhance teaching and learning.

Schools can use a free twitter service to send out important information to parents rather than spending money (that they do not have right now) on expensive phone messaging systems (that parents hang up on).

Why not use Facebook for shool information pages? It's free and easy to use.

It is 2010 folks. Don't just think out of the box, step out of it and into reality.

Next year I will use cell phones, twitter, and facebook for my high school classes. My conservative school district may not like that. Let the cards fall where they may, but I want to reach my students where they are and help them succeed with the tools that they use rather than waisting valuable class time enforcing rules that are impossible to enforce, and are simply not logical.

Anonymous said...

My sons use their cell phones to do their homework when a computer is not available.

Steven Levy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicky said...

Thanks for bringing up this issue, Liz, it's a trend that schools seem to spend a lot of energy fighting against. I recently attended an excellent EdWeek webinar in which this issue was addressed - you can read a blog post summary about how schools decided to stop fighting a rising tide, and allow handheld devices in the classroom (not just cellphones)
The two case studies show how handheld devices can be used in principled and effective ways to enhance learning. Heady stuff!

Awenzel said...

I think that allowing students to use or have cell phones in school creates a terrible distraction. Cell phone use in classrooms is a growing problem in our schools today. With many applications and games on cell phones they can cause a major distraction in our classes. I think that by allowing students to even have their cell phones in class you are conveying to them that it is alright to be using them when you are teaching. At our school we have a strict no cell phone policy, the first offense being a Saturday detention. I agree that we as teachers often get caught in the same trap as our students when it comes to cell phone use. At conferences we can often be caught texting or playing with applications on our phones, but does that mean it is alright to do? Personally, I know that when I am “playing” with my phone during a conference my attention is not where it should be…on the speaker. We need to understand that cell phones can be a great tool when used properly, but having them available during instruction is usually only a huge distraction for our students.

April Wenzel

Anonymous said...

I had an instructor who once wisely stated that "too many teachers become educators to be the center of attention". In this debate, I believe that teachers who choose to fight the use of technology or choose not to harness it to help the students clearly fall into this category. Students are in class to learn and it is every teacher's responsibility to use absolutely every available tool to see that that happens.
Liz, thanks for taking the time to research this and finding useful ways to incorporate cells phone into classrooms in a productive manner.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Thank you everyone for your comments! This is an exciting topic and I welcome all opinions.

Anonymous said...

I have very mixed feelings about this issue. I totally agree that cell phones can be used for educational purposes, however, they can also be a great distraction for students during class. Very few teachers know how to use cell phones for educational purposes, and if students are allowed to have the cell phones out during class without it being for this purpose, they are texting with their friends rather than listening to the content being taught. I don't agree that the content must be boring for this to happen, it is just the nature of kids to stay in constant contact with their friends. My choice would be to ban them during classroom time, UNLESS, the teacher has requested the students have them out for educational purposes. My reason, behavior becomes an issue: bullying, threats, fights, etc. often begin via texting. This is not only a distraction during instruction, but causes problems throughout a school. I think it is ok for kids to be told there is a proper time for all things. Why do we have a problem saying no to this generation?

pda cell phone said...

I think banning cell phone from school is bad for student, although it's also has positive impact for student such as more focus in call room but phone is still crucial aspect for communication even for student..

Anonymous said...

That's stupid thing. It's not possible to get a higher grade if cellphones are allowed in the class. It's just good keeping them out of the class.

Of course, should not be banned from Campus itself!

phd said...

cell phones bring reality to the class room.

Disclaimers and Other Information about this blog. The information on the blog may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up to date. The opinions expressed on the blog are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of anyone or any institution associated with the author. Links to external sources in the blog posts are provided solely as a courtesy to our blog visitors. All of the links on the sidebar under "recommended links" are links that the author believes to possibly have benefit in K-12 teaching and learning. All other sidebar links are related to cell phones and/or education but not necessary recommended as a K-12 learning resource by the author, some may be sponsor links and/or paid for image/banner ads. The author does not do paid reviews for her blog posts about web resources.Please contact Liz at for any inquires regarding this blog.
Creative Commons License Cell Phones in Learning by Liz Kolb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at