I was a student when the policy was that cell phones were not allowed to enter the school building. Schools are becoming more passive and cell phones are now allowed in the building but many school require the cellular devices be left in lockers. It was not until I researched the uses for cell phones in the classroom that I became more aware of the acceptable uses for cell phones in the classroom. I have always believed the argument for allowing cell phones in the classroom could be justified during crisis situations as a safety precaution. However, there were many arguments against cell phones for reasons such as: cheating, texting during class, breech of privacy etc. In an article by Beth Lynne she discusses the acceptable and unacceptable uses of cell phones. Her article can be read in its entirety at http://teachingtechnology.suite101.com/article.cfm/fair_cell_phone_use_in_schools. Some suggestions she makes as acceptable use in the classroom, include the following: taking pictures of in-class projects to send to parents, text messaging missed assignments to peers who are absent (creating a buddy system), students can listen to music with the use of headphones for students who find music relaxing.

The importance of establishing a fair use policy in a school is to provide students with a degree into which they have opportunities to use their cell phones for responsible actions and are aware of consequences that will be served if guidelines are not followed. Punishing a student and placing an infraction on their record for cell phone use is harsh. If a student, however, is caught cheating or sending unappropriate pictures or messages then adequate referral should be served.

The reality behind cell phone use is it is easier for school districts to say no to all active cell phone use during school hours, to not be held accountable to monitor the cell phone use and whether it is being used appropriately during school hours. The myth is "you give them an inch they'll take a mile" and laxing the guidelines could become more problematic than beneficial.

So what restrictions can you place to ensure that students adhere to guidelines? Will kids more than likely bend the rules, yes. As a teacher what can you do to place a responsible motive for students to adhere to during school hours.
A possibe Acceptable Use Policy for the classroom: (if the school district allows phones in student's possession)
1. If cell phone is brought into classroom, place cell phone at corner of desk during instructional time. (this allows the teacher to monitor that cell phones are easily accessible, yet students are not texting on htem while the teacher is teaching)
2. Test days: leave cell phones in locker or put personal items in the back of room and only have pen/paper at desk.

One thing to consider: Cell phones and text messaging: Is it really any different than 20 years ago when kids passed notes? There should be consequences for inappropriate use but we cannot ban cell phones because students text or cheat...these two things were around long before cell phones existed.

EED467, Dr. Laprairie's SHSU technology class. 3-24-2009