Technology integration in education can be seen as a challenge with the key argument being disruptions or seen as an opportunity for improved teaching and learning. Technology is brought into teaching with good intentions but like anything else, it encounters unwanted side effects such as distraction and interruption in the classroom (Fang, 2009).
Mobile phones, for example, are considered distracting because of issues with ringing in class, cheating or multitasking on irrelevant websites and the camera on many phones can raise privacy issues as well (Campbell, 2006). Seemingly, mobile phone intrusions in classrooms is a less appropriate place compared to other places because of the process of experience during class. For example, the experience of being on public transport is usually not as critical as arriving at the destination. The experience of being in a classroom is different however (Campbell, 2006). Like the bus, the classroom offers a vital purpose – ideally, to learn something. Nevertheless, the experience of being in the classroom is much more influential on the ultimate purpose compared to settings like the bus (Campbell, 2006). Learning is heavily mediated through the experience of being in the classroom. If that experience is disturbed by a mobile phone distraction, it is more costly than in the case with commuting on the bus. In addition, the position of both class and teacher can be threatened by mobile use and ringing, particularly if it is rattling against a hard surface such as a desk (Campbell, 2006).
Mobile phones and other digital devices have increasingly become commodity products and easily available and are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Banning mobile devices in classrooms is a temporary solution that is unsustainable (Johnson, 2012). As devices gets smaller and more affordable, students will find ways of using it (Johnson, 2012). Although mobile devices are being blamed for itself distractions in classrooms, it could provide opportunities for change in the classroom. With many of the world’s best educators sharing their video lectures through educational portals and platforms such as YouTube EDU and Schoology (Fang, 2009). Such platforms can transform classrooms into an interactive environment. These devices can also be integrated into flipped classroom strategy with students using it outside class to engage in contents and teachers using class time to engage students with hands-on activities which will allow students to apply their knowledge.
Instead of mobile devices being seen as “toys” for students to play with, it can become students’ study buddies in class and beyond. Teacher’s should therefore compete for that learning space in a student’s hand. Instead of banning mobile devices or just tolerating them, teachers can use such devices as tools to engage students’ minds (Fang, 2009).
Campbell, S. (2006). Perceptions of Mobile Phones in College Classrooms: Ringing, Cheating and Classroom Policies. Communication Education, 55(3), 280-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03634520600748573
Fang, B. (2009). From Distraction to Engagement: Wireless Devices in the Classroom. Retrieved 9 January 2018, from http://er.educause.edu/en/Articles/2009/12/From-Distraction-to-Engagement-Wireless-Devices-in-the-Classroom
Johnson, D. (2012). The classroom teacher’s technology survival guide. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au