March 20, 2007

Should kids use mobile phones in education?

A simple poll with, for me, a simple answer. Click and add your view over at TecnoTeach's place.


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Hi Ewan,
I think I'd give the same answer as you (yes) but I do not think it is simple.
A relation of mine was beaten up on the way home from school last month, videoed from a phone and posted online.
This makes it even more important that we teach children (demo, give experence) of using tech in a positive way.
I am not sure if we should simplify and polarise opinion.


Either you are snubbing me or you just don't visit my blog ;)

I put this poll into my sidebar last month - unfortunately only 16 people have voted but so far the vote is 76.9% said yes.

I guess it highlights the difference in putting the poll into a blog post and in your sidebar.

In response to John, the phone doesn't have to be a pupils I have a set of old phones without SIM cards in that I use as cameras and mp3 recorders when working in schools.

The curse of the feedreader, I'm afraid. I didn't notice you had done the survey.

Ewan, the answer to your question is really wholly determined on what you are asking a child to do with a mobile phone. The use of mobile phones in schools is the best example of how the introduction of any technology into a school environment, without experienced, knowledgeable teachers being asked to assess the likely impact, can create havoc. Ask any teenage girl honest enough to talk openly to you, and she will be able to give you countless examples of how the mobile phone has been used as the most effective bullying tool ever invented. It has brought absolute misery to the lives of probably thousands of girls in UK secondary education. As a social tool it never had a place in a well run school at all. The systems will already be there for any child to seek adult help if they need it in an emergency, without the need for a mobile of their own.
In terms of other potential uses. It may have a use as a simple and quick data viewer, in the same way that most businessmen use it. But that will be predicated on pupils having access to the kinds of data and information online they need to organise themselves. Some schools are much better at this than others. As a learning tool, all the examples I have seen so far have been at best shallow, and at worst educationally counterproductive. See Culture Online’s silly Myartspace, where everything the children are asked to do could be done with a paper and pen more easily and effectively, and in reality, the museums number their exhibits with a code to save the pupils using their mobiles to take photos! Another perfect example of where a technology is being urged on people without any reference to experienced, knowledgeable teachers, who could have told the company who came up with the idea, not to waste everyone’s time.

yes i do what if the pearents needed to talk to us and could not get through to the school we would have our mobiles and theywould be able to keep in touch with us so yes but we need to learn to use them propaly.

Joe, a lot of the handheld learning initiatives I've seen do seem to advocate the use of the device for the sake of it - where a pencil and paper would make the same or more impact.

I'm hoping to get an invite to this year's Handheld learning conference to put forward how mobile devices can be used - are being used - as a social learning tool. As to whether social media has a positive impact on learning, just take a look at any of the examples on this blog or over at

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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