The war against mobile devices…can we really say we’re moving towards digital literacies?

I have just read this really interesting blog article from a public school teacher, as she describes how despite the age gap, and despite all the myths which surround young people and their digital know-how, she managed to introduce her son to a Google tool (Google Forms) to be able to collect data for one of his school projects. The article shows how in this one instance, the teacher (and the mother) had much to contribute to the digital education of one youth. One can only imagine what one can do for many other youths.

In another article which I also happened upon today, I was reading about the war that many school administrators and educators seem to wage upon mobile devices and their usage in class and on the school premises. It reminded me of an observation session I recently experienced in one of the local secondary schools here in Malta. As I waited in the school’s headmistress’ office, I noticed a box lying on one of the tables. Students seemed to be pouring in at 7.45am in the morning to leave their mobile phones in this shoebox, before they started their school day. Another school, a private independent school, which I also happened to walk into a few months ago, had clear instructions above the entrance that stated that no mobile devices should be allowed on the school premises.

Yet, recently during our last election campaign, many of our politicians, were promising the use of tablets in the classroom. Couple this to the fact that most of the Internet access in the schools is controlled solely by a single agency dedicated to the Information and Communications Technology. I find it very strange that many teachers at schools, do not have access to a number of social media sites, as well as a number of sites, that may not be considered as ‘strictly educational’ – whatever that means. I also very much wonder, who holds the power to allow for sites to be accessed in schools, or otherwise. To my mind, the person or persons responsible for schools should be working hand in hand with teachers and higher education researchers to be able to define what should be kept out of schools.

So back to the article discussing the war waging against mobile devices, I found it very interesting that the author focused on school administrators and leaders calling upon solutions to be found to the behavioral issues that many seem to have with allowing mobile device usage in schools. I think that we have this tendency of rather than addressing problems, we try to ignore them, hoping that eventually we wouldn’t have to deal with them. In the case of mobile device usage, technology use and applications in schools, the consequence we’re facing is that of having a society that is not considered as a digitally literate society. Despite the records showing how more than half the population of Malta seems to have an active Facebook profile, I believe that we’re still a long way from being called digitally literate. It takes more than the ability of updating personal status, to be effectively digitally literate. And the problem is that inside schools, and even universities, rather than embracing change, and finding solutions to problems, we keep ignoring 21st century practices in the hope that eventually everything will sort itself out. I have a bad feeling that unless we really get our acts together in Education, we will have to sort out very bad consequences ourselves.

 

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2 thoughts on “The war against mobile devices…can we really say we’re moving towards digital literacies?

  1. In my jurisdiction there is growing acceptance of the value of such devices–mostly because teachers, themselves, have their own and find them quite useful. Often, though, I get a bit dismayed at 1–the overly-hyped marketing efforts made by some of the manufacturers and 2–the sometimes misguided efforts on behalf of some where the tablet (or whatever) becomes the focus of the classroom, not the curriculum. I blogged about this last fall if you are interested: http://mauriceabarry.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/tablets-and-transforming-education-much-is-needed-before-it-should-happen/
    Essentially the article says these devices have excellent promise but we must be realistic in our expectations of them. It will take time and effort before they start meeting that promise.

    • I agree with you and I think you do have a very valid point. At the last BETT show, I would have liked to see more applications of how educational technology was being used in the classroom, and less of the vendors, displaying more of the same LMS and IWBs. Unfortunately these things seem to take on the glitz for major decision makers and politicians. And this invariably leads to the over popularization of devices, decreasing the importance that should be assigned towards the learners.

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