From it’s mainstream introduction in the 1800’s, public education has slowly evolved. With each passing year, curriculums change, as do teaching styles. However, with the rapid advance of technology, teachers have had to adapt their classrooms in ways once thought impossible, and at a rate previously unheard of. In many aspects, technology has benefited the classroom. With instant access to a world of information, students can obtain new perspectives and opinions from people across the world. Many students attending high school now walk the halls with tablet-in-bag and phone-in-hand.
Though these devices have brought incredible amounts of opportunities for students, they have introduced problems for students and headaches for teachers. Wikipedia may only be a few taps away, but Snapchat is just as easily accessible. Because Riverside has no overarching rules regarding cell phone usage, teachers have been left to tackle the issue independently.
Some teachers, such as Ms. Claudia Durand, feel it’s best to shut down cell phone usage before it starts.
“The students know that while I’m teaching, there are no cell phones,” said Durand “I decided to come up with a little system, I call it the cell phone detention center (a small green box with a picture of a cell phone behind bars.) They know the rules; if I see them using their device inappropriately, I bring over the detention center. They just have to put their phone inside, and place the detention center on top of their desk.”
According to Durand, the reception to the “cell phone detention center” has been relatively positive; however, some students have vocalized their opposition to the idea.
“It’s not effective, it just creates alienation,” said Shannon Mason, a grade 12 student. In regards to using technology efficiently in class, Mason has expressed her concerns. “Do I use my phone efficiently in class? For Snapchat, yes. For actual schoolwork, no.”
Some students have avoided the distractions by ignoring their phone altogether.
“I don’t use my cellphone at all,” said senior student Mariam Faizi. “I’d rather use my class time to ask the teacher questions.”
While some believe in strict rules to prevent the abuse of technology, others have adopted a more relaxed approach.
“My only rule is that they should use them for educational purposes. I won’t take their phones away, but I will tap them on the shoulder and tell them to stop if they’re not using it for those purposes.” said Ms. Jennifer Nelson.
“As long as their phones aren’t being used while I’m teaching a lesson, I have no problem with students using them in class,” said Mr. Carlo Muro.
Science teacher and founder of the Riverside Tech Team Mr. Jeremy Brown is a strong supporter of technology in the classroom.
“I try and encourage it to be used properly in class” said Brown. “I have an answer key at the back of my classroom. Students go back there and take pictures of it. I’m not a person who likes to take a cell phone. I’ll simply ask the students to either put it away, or use it properly.”
Riverside Alumni Arianna Jaffer used technology to her benefit in high school, and is now applying her knowledge to post-secondary.
“In grade 9, I didn’t have a lot of freedom with my phone,” said Jaffer. “However, as I progressed through high school, I learned to ignore the distractions and use it to it’s full capabilities. Being able to check a fact quickly helped me better understand the curriculum, and being able to record entire lectures makes studying for tests easier. I believe that with responsible usage, cell phones can be a force for good. Sure, some students are going to abuse their freedoms, but it’s their responsibility to use their class time effectively. There’s nobody holding your hand after you graduate, so it’s crucial to learn in high school while you have the chance.”
Though their opinions may differ, it’s clear that teachers want to provide the best education for their students. Challenges may arise in this transitional period, however students appear to be motivated and taking advantage of these developments. Students must learn to use their devices responsibly or face the consequences; whether that be a failing grade or a week in the cell phone detention center is still up for debate.