Electronic devices, particularly cellular phones have become a mainstay in our society. Cell phones and other forms of hand-held digital technology have made their way into the classroom and has become a common accessory among high school and middle school students. By the time a student is in middle school, it is likely that they already own a cell phone and carry it with them wherever they go (Lucking, Edwin & Mervyn, 2010). As the technological capabilities of these hand held devices increase and the upsurge of their popularity continues, educators race to establish protocol for their use at school (Charles, 2012). These policies range from very loose guidelines to zero tolerance. As educators seek to meet the needs of their students, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of these technological devices when establishing acceptable use policies that provide access, while eliminating distractions during instruction.
The Student, the Teacher, and Technology
Prensky (2001) argues that currently, our educational system is not designed to teach the students of today. He defines today’s students as “digital natives”, individuals who are technologically savvy, and have spent much of their lives surrounded by computers, video games, and other technological tools and toys; individuals who are native speakers of the tech-language of today (2001). Prensky defines teachers, however, as “digital immigrants”, individuals who did not grow up speaking the tech-language of today and who did not grow up surrounded by the technology (Prensky, 2001). Considering that many teachers are not “digital natives,” there is a great divide among teachers and students when it comes to what is acceptable use of technology in the classroom. The language and culture of today’s digital native student, demands that educators learn a new way of teaching; adopting tools and strategies that are not aligned with our current methodologies (Prensky, 2001).
The nature of the “digital native” suggests that the cellular devices are already in the classroom. Research indicates that students are savvier than their teachers at using mobile technology and considering that the cell phone has become the technology tool of choice, using it for academic purposes is one way for the “digital immigrant” to meet the needs of the today’s student (Irina, 2012).
“ Each year, the computing power of these mobile devices grows, the library of apps and software they can run expands, and the networks that tie them together get wider and faster” (Lucking, Edwin & Mervyn, 2010). The popularity of the cell phone and its wide range of uses almost guarantee that it will become a classroom mainstay along with computers, whiteboards, and the internet (Lucking, Edwin & Mervyn, 2010). Opening the classroom to the use of this type of technology also leaves all of the capabilities of the device at the disposal of those who...