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Cell Phones: Learning tools or high-tech distractions?

Cell phones are incredible, aren’t they? From Angry Birds to Vine, CandyCrush to Instagram, our cell phones can do just about anything you can think of, and then probably some more. It’s no surprise that students are constantly staring at their multi-talented phone screens. And it’s no surprise that teachers feel the need to ban cell phones from their classes. Students are inevitably going to be sneaking peeks at their phones during class, whether it’s to check their texts or to scroll through their twitter feed.
But is it really worth it to actively punish students from being in tune with modern technology? It’s not like cell phones are going away. Cell phones aren’t just a 21st century “trend,”; we’re stuck with these things for life, especially considering that our technology evolves on practically a daily basis. So what’s the point of trying to escape them? Kids are going to bring their phones to school anyway, so might as well use them constructively, and utilize their versatility.
Many teachers have already realized the potential of technology in classrooms and are trying unique and innovative methods of teaching. For instance, www.polleverywhere.com is a free website that produces questions and allows students to text in their answers and then discuss with the class. Then, there are platforms like SchoolTown which allow teachers to deliver materials directly to students’ personal cell phones. A school teacher in Chicago started to create projects in which his French class would use their cell phones to call and speak to each other in French. And recently, an article was written on Cleveland school teacher, Erin Hattabaugh, who has been advocating use of phones and iPads at her school district for years. “The nice thing about these devices is that they’re very quiet. The students can reference my lectures on websites, solve problems, and they don’t have to get out of their chairs.”
Even our president is trying to incorporate technology into the classroom setting. President Obama recently announced the ConnectEd initiative, which hopes to connect 99% of America’s schools to broadband internet.

It’s already happening! A Pew Research Center study released from February 2013 states,

“73% of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers said their students use phones in the classroom or to complete assignments.”

Aside from all these useful and interesting applications of the cell phone, today’s phones simply have the vastness of the internet on 3.5 inch glass screens. There’s no reason to avoid cell phones, and many people are fighting to bring them into the daily education scene. What do you think? Do you think using cell phones in classrooms could be beneficial for the evolution of education, or do you think it’ll just be a distraction? Let us know!