Friday, 18 April 2008

'Lets ignore any 21st century learning' - unbelievable!

I was incredulous to read an interesting blog post by 'The Mobile Learner' concerning the decision by the London Catholic School Board in Ontario banning hand held electronic devices in schools.

In deciding to ban students from using everything from digital cameras (WHY???), cell phones, and MP3 players in lessons, school administrators are totally ignoring the real trends to engaging students in their learning as we move through the 21st century.
All round the world students in primary and secondary schools are increasingly engaged in recording their work via camera and video, creating blogs, podcasts, web chats, online research and more. To ban secondary students from doing this is, frankly, a bizarre decision. The one thing students will not forget as they go from place to place is their cell phones.... lets get them to use the real capacity contained in these devices to enhance their learning in schools. They expect to use this technology, it is a key part of their life!
Whilst they have not stopped students using their devices out of lessons they are missing a fantastic opportunity for them to use the computing power they have to keep hidden in their pockets.
Even more bizarrely even school board employees are only allowed to use these devices "in areas from which students are excluded". Taken to its logical extent then this includes staff also being unable to use digital cameras to record student work or projects, create and listen to podcasts and so on. This is an even more bizarre decision.
Issues regarding online harrassment are used as reasons for this decision - but there are ways of dealing with this. It is the schools responsibility to educate reponsible use of devices and social networking sites. People who abuse this must face consequences I totally agree, including using the law if necessary - no one will argue with that. However I would be surprised that if this is happening it is actually happening in schools during school hours - much more likely it is happening in the majority of hours when they are not in the building!

Equally, the vast majority of students are great, responsible and would not dream of being engaged in antisocial behaviour, and this ban will actually be inhibiting their ability to use education technology to enhance their work.

I am also sceptical about the Boards view that students achivement will be enhanced without this equipment. I frequently see students really getting much more engaged in projects and achieving far better results because they are using technology that they are familiar and comfortable with.
To ban the use of all these electronic devices in schools, in my humble opinion, is not just shortsighted it is plain bonkers!

To read the media story in the London Free Press about this decision click here.


Chan Bliss said...

"It is the schools responsibility to educate responsible use of devices and social networking sites."
I have been expressing this opinion to both parents and administrators in my district. I hope that they are coming around to see the truth in that statement.

Gareth Long said...

I absolutely agree with you - to ban them though is just incredibly shortsighted. Just a few days ago in my travels one student asked a large group of teachers why they couldn't 'bluetooth' information. Pity is, some teachers weren't sure what he was talking about!