I have been mulling over this one for a while and I am looking for help from the community. We all have been aware for some time about the problems posed by draconian internet filtering in schools. The solution to this problem appeared for me when I took the time to prepare, made a meeting with my superintendent and made a measured argument regarding the potential educational value of Web 2.0 tools and networking sites. My school, along with others across the country are now running into the issue about what to do with student cell phones. As more and more students acquire cell phones schools have scrambled to put policies in place to police them. In my school the way that these policies have been imposed reminds me of the arbitrary way websites were added to the districts. The current policy here is simply that students are not allowed to have a cell phone on their person during the school day. The district encourages students to leave them at home (which doesn’t happen), but if they do bring the phones to school they are to remain in their locker powered off throughout the school day. If a teacher learns that a student has a phone on their person, or if the device goes off in the locker the device is to be immediately confiscated.
I understand the districts position a little on this one. As it stands now, cell phones are mainly a distraction because they are not employed by the school in any meaningful way. I myself have been interrupted during a class by a student’s cell phone going off. The district has also run into the problem of students calling parents or the media during an emergency or drill. As phones and networks become more sophisticated, and as handheld devices eventually replace desktop devices what can we do to use these tools in our instruction without simply banning them? I am open to ideas.