Experts see pros and cons to allowing cell phones in the classroom

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Students around the world are breaking away from their phones.

In 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 77 percent of US schools had moved to ban cell phones for non-academic purposes. In September 2018, French lawmakers banned the use of mobile phones for students under the age of 15. In China, phones were banned nationwide for school students last year.

Supporters of these initiatives have cited links between smartphone use and bullying and social isolation and the need to keep students focused on schoolwork.

But some Harvard experts say educators and administrators should consider learning how to teach with technology instead of against it, in part because so many students are still dealing with academic and social disruption caused by the pandemic. . At home, many young people were free to choose how and when to use their phones during learning hours. Now, they face a school environment that seeks to remove their primary source of connection.

“Going back to the face, I think it was hard to break the habit,” said Victor Pereira, a lecturer in education and co-chair of the Teaching and Teaching Leadership Program at the Graduate School of Education.

Through their students, he and others with experience in both classroom and clinical settings have seen interactions with technology blossom into meaningful social connections that defy a single mindset. “Are schools coming back, trying to figure out how can we readjust our expectations?” added Pereira.

It’s a tough question, especially in light of research suggesting that the mere presence of a smartphone can undermine learning.

Michael Rich, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, says phones and school don’t mix: Students can’t effectively absorb information while also sending messages, scroll or watch YouTube videos.

“The human brain is incapable of thinking about more than one thing at a time,” he said. “And what we think of as multitasking is actually rapid task switching. And the problem with that is that task switching can cover a lot of ground in terms of different topics, but it doesn’t go deep into any of them.”

Pereira’s approach is to step back — and ask if a student who can’t resist the phone is a sign that the teacher needs to work harder to make a connection. “Two things that I try to share with my new teachers are, one, why is this student on the phone? What is causing them to pick up their cell phone instead of joining our class discussion or whatever else might And then that leads into the second part, which is basically classroom management.

“Design better learning activities, design learning activities where you look at how all your students might want to engage and what their interests are,” she said. He added that having access to phones can enrich lessons and provide opportunities to use technology for school purposes.

Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, a researcher at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Chan School, argues that more flexible classroom policies can create opportunities to teach technology literacy and self-regulation.

“There is a huge, growing body of literature that shows that social media platforms are particularly useful for people who need resources or who need support of some kind, beyond their immediate environment,” he said. A study co-authored by Rachel McCloud and Vish Viswanath for the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness shows that this is especially true for marginalized groups such as students of color and LGBTQ students. But the findings do not support a free-messaging policy, Bekalou stressed.

In the end, Rich, who noted the particular challenges his patients with attention deficit disorders and other neurological conditions face, favors a class-by-class strategy. “It can be managed in a very localized way,” he said, adding: “It’s important for parents, teachers and kids to remember what they’re doing at any given time and focus on that. It’s really only mono- with the goal of doing very well good at things.”

Provided by the Harvard Gazette

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Reference: Experts See Pros and Cons of Allowing Cell Phones in the Classroom (2023, March 14) Retrieved March 14, 2023, from -class.html

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