Once again I am reflecting about an article on the use of technology in the classroom, and once again I feel the need to quell the unjustified assumption that all opportunities for change are necessarily good. This time around the writer has simply limited their scope to the use of mobile phones in the classroom, rather than the entirety of available IT.
As I proposed in my last reflection, the combination of Bennett and Maton’s tentative methodology for technological integration with Mishra and Koehler’s TPACK framework provides a comprehensive framework for the integration of technology into the classroom that provides the greatest benefit to teachers and students. While Bennett and Maton provide us with the ‘when’ of technological integration, Mishra and Koehler provide us with the ‘how’.
It should be clear now that I am not against the integration of IT into the classroom but rather the thoughtless integration of technology because it offers new opportunities for teachers. LETS NOT JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON TOO QUICKLY NOW. What if excessive mobile phone use is negatively affecting adolescents, but we do not have significant research yet to inform us? Then teachers will have been compounding the problem by encouraging mobile use in their classes.
Possible negatives of mobile phone use are as follows
– Students with mobile phones often choose to text rather than to talk about awkward or emotionally difficult situations. This has a negative effect on their ability to interact in normal social contexts by limiting experience of these interactions (Campbell, 2005).
– Mobile phones were originally designed to facilitate communication, not for education purposes and will be perceived that way by adolescents (Campbell, 2005).
– Many researchers have found that mobile phone use is problematic in schools. A New Zealand survey found that 66% of students left their phone on in classes (Campbell, 2005).
– Mobile phones disrupt the role of students in a school. School becomes about socialization and not learning. Mobile phone use undermines teacher authority and weakens their control over the classroom (Campbell, 2005).
– One positive exception to these negative effects on learning is the Brisbane “Txt Me” program. The project aimed to use mobile phone technology to support sustainable learning with disengaged 15 to 19-year-old students. This system was found to be highly motivational and supportive to these young people’s learning (Campbell, 2005).
Much of Justine Isard’s article Why Mobile Technology Makes Sense in the 21st Century Classroom seeks to convince the reader that mobile technology should be integrated into the education process, though the method by which this is accomplished must be rethought. To Isard’s credit, she gives plenty of justification for her assertion that the use of mobile technology in education can have a positive effect on students. For example she cites a study that found that mobile assess to school resources, lead to students spending an extra 40 minutes per week looking at school related material. Isard claims that the mobile phone allows students to be more autonomous in their learning; they allow students to do quick research, and to publish their thoughts online, increasing their audience, student interaction and leading to deeper student reflection.
Isard argues that mobile phones should we used in schools because modern students are so used to using their mobiles to solve a problem or to find some information that they are lost without them (I find this level of dependence on mobile technology to be worrying and I do not think that we should accentuate such unnecessary dependence). While I agree with Isard that there are many possible benefits that may come from allowing mobile use in classrooms, I think that serious thought must be given to the negative issues that I raised earlier. Isard is right that by allowing mobile use in education we are opening a Pandora’s Box. But why believe her that the possible advantages outweigh the disadvantages? I fail to see how she has given the evidence to warrant such a statement.
I find Isard’s suggestion that embracing technology allows education to become ‘real’ and ‘relevant’, and that this is an advantage, to be debatable. If not used correctly technology is a constant distraction from the pressing concerns of our modern world, with its very real problems, and very difficult solutions (particularly mobile technology which is overused because of its availability). Sometimes learning is not ‘fun’ or ‘relevant’, but we still have to do it. Making every activity fun and exciting leaves students in a poor place to enter the often boring workforce, where they may not be able to use their mobile phone!
Isard’s most beneficial contribution to the discussion about when and how to integrate modern technology in classrooms, is her tips for supporting schools in harnessing technology in the education process. For example Isard suggests that schools must have strong leadership and vision, that they should support and value those with IT expertise in their faculty, that they discuss IT use in classrooms, and finally that they instate regular sustained professional development in IT for teachers.
As I reflect on the first three articles I see a more complete framework for technological incorporation arising that looks a little like this.
1. Bennett and Maton’s Methodology for tentative technological integration based upon significant research as to technology’s effects on students. This tells us when technology should be used in the classroom
2. The TPACK model. Shows us how technology should be incorporated into the classroom
3. Isard’s tips show us how schools can facilitate the proper integration of IT into the classroom. This must be based on significant research and change must be tentative.
For a genius critique of Isard’s article I recommend Jadon Henderson’s masterful work. It can be found at http://jadonhenderson1.wordpress.com/. He’s just so edgy and cool, like people who go to Riverview.
Isard, J. (2012) Why mobile technology makes sense in the 21st century classroom. The Professional Educator
Campbell, M. (2005) The Impact of the Mobile Phone on Young People’s Social Life. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/3492/1/3492.pdf