When did a phone stop being just a phone?
A phone is not a phone. It’s a computer in disguise. Forget desktop, or laptop or tablet. Your phone is a computer that is little more than finger-sized. And students need to be using them more often in the classroom.
It’s been said that the power of the computers in the first spacecraft that landed on the moon were less than that of a normal household washing machine. What you have in the palm of your hand is far more powerful than that!
And it wasn’t all that long ago – maybe only ten years or so – that a mobile phone was great for making phone calls and sending text messages. That’s all it did. Some phones might have had simple games like Snake or Tetris or something similar. No internet, no apps, no Facebook, no YouTube, no mp3 player.
But now it’s almost impossible to buy a mobile phone without any of these functions. And it’s causing a bit of a headache both inside and outside the classroom.
What’s wrong with having all that power at your fingertips? Some teachers and parents say that it’s a distraction, that students can too easily look up answers online, or that there’s too much jealousy caused by wanting to have the latest and best phone. Phones are expensive and could be a target for thieves. Even accidentally breaking one is an expensive problem.
It’s important that students and teachers move with the times – school children are not still using chalk and blackboards, or dipping their pens in ink every time they have to write a sentence. It’s the same with phones and iPads and devices – computers are getting smaller, faster and cheaper all the time. They are an important educational tool.
Critics say that having all this information at your fingertips is confusing – and that it doesn’t help students focus in the classroom – and students might cheat. Instead of using phones for sharing work ideas or looking things up, students will be social-networking, playing music or browsing the internet.
Interestingly, though, some people are beginning to think that it’s far too complicated having all that information on a phone, and that they want their lives to be more simple. These people think going back to old technology is cool. And so now, on internet selling sites like TradeMe or eBay, the ‘old-style’ phones are selling for huge sums of money. Retro is cool! Retro is also sensible.
It makes sense – to use a phone just to make a phone call or send a text. It’s worth thinking about…
Article written by Ben Egerton
This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:
Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Why do students need access to mobile phones in the classroom?
2. Are mobile phones too complicated? What are the advantages/disadvantages of cramming so much technology into a mobile phone?
3. How have the developments in mobile phone technology directly benefited students in classrooms?
1. Go one whole day (24 hours) without using your phone. Could you do it? If not, why not? What are the essential things that you would need your phone for?
2. Research the history of the mobile phone – from when it was first invented to today’s smart phones. What would you consider to be the key stages of its development? Ask your family and friends, or look in op shops, or for pictures online for some of the older styles of mobile phone. What do you think of them?
3. Old-style mobile phones are making a bit of a comeback. What other ‘old technology’ would you like to see? Ask parents, family and friends about what they enjoyed using five, ten, twenty years ago and that they’d like to see again.