Research/opinion paper on cellphones in school…

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For one of my Education classes, I was required to write a research/opinion paper on a specific topic. I chose to do it on cellphone usage in schools, and since I received a solid mark on it, I figured I would share it here. If you would like a list of my references cited please let me know. I tried to include them, but WordPress formatted them strangely and I do not have the time at the moment to edit them properly.

Enjoy and feel free to comment.

In 1971 an author at the New York Times, C.P. Snow, remarked: “Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” While the quote can be viewed as being a rather bleak observation, I feel there is a lot of wisdom within his words even forty years later. As technology in its various forms has advanced over that time, it has affected many facets of life including our education system. There have been both positive and negative consequences of technology integration in a school setting, though educators have had to face a challenge with regards to a particular piece of technology; the cell phone. Like many issues that arise in the classroom, there is no one answer on how to address the use of the cell phones in school, however, I wish to address both the positive and negative repercussions of this device.

In a general sense, cell phones have been very beneficial to many people on an everyday basis, and have practically become ubiquitous in our society. Statistics Canada reported in 2006 there were 16.8 million people who subscribed to a wireless communications provider, showing a strong year-after-year increase in the use of cellular devices. Considering the convenience owning a cell phone has, such as making phone calls practically anywhere, and having the ability to store contacts/important numbers directly in the phone, this is not that surprising. What is surprising are the advancements cellular phones have undergone in such a short period of time. Much like the limited capabilities of early computers, when cell phones were first introduced they were large, bulky, and easily susceptible to dropping calls mid-conversation. Today’s cell phones, on the other hand, are a far cry from what came before. With the introduction of “smart phones”, for example, users have access to the internet, text messaging, and an incredible amount of other applications. In addition to this, these types of phones can double as a personal media player, for music etc., and most cell phones come with a built in digital camera. While there is an obvious draw to owning a piece of technology that can rival some home computer systems, therein lies the challenge to educators; trying to deal with a device that does a lot more than just take calls. Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Online Communication

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I think that email is a great tool for parent/teacher communication for a number of the reasons mentioned in module 10. Like it was mentioned, it is fast, convenient, and incredibly popular. Although text messaging does seem to be growing in popularity, email will always be a staple resource for me to use, since I quite frankly am not the biggest fan of texting. Furthermore, I think it would be a bit odd text messaging my students parents to speak with them, thus I will probably be sticking with email, phone, and a class website in the future.

My bias against text messaging aside, the thing I like about email is the ability to provide a great deal of information if need be, as well as being able to attach documents when required. This is great for in the classroom since students and/or their parents can be emailed missed assignments due to illness, and parents can be contacted in an additional way than the phone. Since it can be tricky getting a hold of parents by phone, what with the “stay-at-home” parent seeming to shrink, email is a great alternative when it seems like you just can’t get through.  Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Wikis & Education

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I think the use of Wiki’s in the classroom can be a very effective approach to teaching/learning material, however, there needs to be time spent teaching students about what they are engaged with. If I was talking to my students about Wikipedia, one of the most important parts of that talk would be to make sure they understand that anyone can contribute to an article. As such, they should not just take every bit of information from the site as fact, and if anything use it as a jumping point to formulate ideas. Like I have been taught at the University, Wikipedia is great if you are looking for a broad, general view of a topic, but it better not be seen as a reference in a paper!

Using Wikipedia as a research source aside, Wiki’s do present some effective ways to learn in the classroom. I cannot help but recall an ed. psych course in my PSII that had the class divided into groups, and expected to create a Wiki on a specific topic. I thought this kind of assignment would work great in the classroom, since it encouraged collaborative learning, and also took less pressure off an individual student. Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Social Networking

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Call me old fashioned, but I personally will be avoiding profile based social networking sites as a teacher, at least for the most part. I can acknowledge the fact they do present ways to be utilized in the classroom, but considering the age range I hope to teach, there are many other resources online that I would prefer to use. Other than using Facebook, for example, to promote an upcoming theatre production or something along those lines, I feel that anything this particular website could offer, can be done elsewhere with less issues to worry about.

Quite simply, I feel like there are far too many distractions inherent with a social network like Facebook. With all the applications and instant access to friends or other peoples profiles, it would be pretty easy for students to lose track of why they were accessing the site to begin with. I am all for the use of collaborative learning and sharing online, but why not use something like Google groups as your means to do so? If not that, why not create your own classroom website with a forum, etc. that can be utilized in a similar fashion? Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Finding Resources Online

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To be blunt, I personally think  Google is one of the very best things found online. While it is the websites found using the search engine that provide me with the information I am looking for, 9 times out of 10 it is because I used Google that my search yields such relevant results. Of all the websites I frequent on a daily basis, Google is definitely at the top of my list for its ease of use and variety of results it produces. A quick look at the Wikipedia article shows the search engine as being the most used engine online and it is no wonder, to me, why that is. Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Internet Safety

After making my way through the many links presented in Module 6, it is apparent that students need to be taught about the dangers present online at a very early age. It actually pains me to think about the fact the internet, which is a wonderful tool to access information of all kinds, is often used by people to exploit others. It is further disheartening to know that children and young adults are targeted so frequently on various capacities. I found this particular site to be incredibly informative and a great resource for parents and educators alike. Read the rest of this entry

Ed. 4764 – Cloud Computing

Obviously this speaks to what kind of learner I am, but it was not until I found the above video that I could really wrap my head around what Cloud Computing meant. While the article found on Wikipedia provided a similar analogy using utilities, just reading about it really didn’t “click” for me. Thank goodness for YouTube. ^_^

But I digress and would like to say Cloud Computing seems like it would be very worthwhile for use in education. The most obvious reason being lower costs for educators and access to free technologies, as mentioned in Bittman’s blog article on the subject. Considering the emphasis on ensuring schools are up-to-date with new and innovative technologies, and the enormous price tags that are attached to such tech, it seems to me that Cloud Computing is a really viable solution to ensure this goal without cutting funds to other programs. Read the rest of this entry