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Smartphones in school

Over the course of the last 100 years technology has increased and improved. It has done so to the point in which restricted and immobile communication devices have transformed into what is known today as the “smartphone”. This innovation can give an individual access to anything they could possibly dream of, leading to the question “can a device with this much versatility be used to improve the quality and experience of schooling?”. In the world today educational systems are facing a challenge whether or not smartphones should be allowed in a classroom environment, accompanied by the student. There are both benefits and drawbacks of students using these devices in a school environment. However, there is a compelling argument circulated by viable evidence, that the positives in fact outway the negatives. Smartphones should be used in school because they guarantee a higher degree of safety for students, they can be used as learning aids, and they prepare students for future jobs in our changing society. Within the novella Anthem by Ayn Rand and the novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, statements are made relating to the topic of discussion, furthering the argument.

  The use of smartphones within a school environment can guarantee parents/guardians a higher degree of safety for their children. Cellular devices can be put in place to monitor students or children ("7 Reasons”). This can be beneficial for both parents and teachers who both have the students best interests in mind. For instance, parents can use the Footprints App to track their children locations ("Footprints."). The availability of this application can only be found on smartphones, thus incentivising why students should be equipped with the device. Parents can locate their children's whereabouts on command, decreasing both parental worrying and the stress education officials have on keeping children in the school building. Children have a tendency to constantly roam, especially at younger ages because they do not know better. If a guardian or supervisor loses sight even for a second, a child has the gateway to potentially becoming lost. It would be in a school district's best interest to be able to identify a student's location at any given moment.

Smartphones and even common cell phones can be used as emergency tools ("7 Reasons”). In today’s day and age schools can get shut down out of the blue for a variety of reasons. This includes factors varying from snowfalls to more dangerous natural disasters, or even gunshots (have become a threat in the eye’s of many American schools). In case of an emergency, the school district's primary responsibilities are to insure student safety and communicate to parents how they are handling the situation. If students have access to their own smartphone or cell phone, they could individually contact their guardians. This process would clearly be viewed as efficient, compared to the bombarding of parental phone calls to the school. Giving the educational staff a sole purpose of just keeping students safe on school grounds. With this, children or students can be exposed to many predators while at school or off the campus. Predators in this case refers to anyone that could potentially inflict harm to a student. Off campus grounds, child kidnappers have the ability to lurk after children when their is no trusting supervision (for instance when a student is on their way home). On campus, it is possible that a potentially dangerous person could have avoided security and found their way into the school. In both situations the probability of danger arising decreases, when a student is equipped with a smartphone. If they had a smartphone or even a cell phone on them, they can contact others letting them know about the suspicious figure.   

The usage of smartphones within educational facilities can benefit a student's overall quality of learning. Using these devices gives both students and teachers access to educational apps ("5 Benefits”). Incorporating useful applications within a learning atmosphere can both intrigue students interests and benefit them academically. Smartphones can provide many educational apps which are available in a wide range of subjects for learners of all kinds ("5 Benefits”). Applications can assist both students and teachers, one of the many is the Piazza App ("Piazza”).  The teachers can use the Piazza App, to keep an eye on their students’ overall performances in different subjects. This gives the teachers the ability to pinpoint both the strengths and weaknesses of the student. From there the educator can use the information to determine how he or she should focus their lessons, and allows the teacher to understand how to assist those who are struggling. Before the use of this technology, a common way to uncover who was struggling was through poor test scores. Students who are having difficulties could now be addressed and helped prior to those exams. The app also gives teachers the ability to give assignments to their students, and gives the students the ability to submit it through their smartphone. This increases the efficiency in productivity within the classroom. Students and teachers alike will appreciate the change from regular lecture instruction which was popular in old school classrooms.
Besides increasing the quality of learning, using smartphones in a classroom can improve the student's ability to learn as well. With smartphones students have the ability to find answers quickly to anything that might be puzzling them ("5 Benefits”).  In some situations, a student may not even need to ask for clarification to a question he or she has during a lesson. Using a smartphone in a classroom environment can provide those answers to the knowledge thirsty students. Overall this would increase classroom efficiency and give learners the ability to access information rapidly. The reasoning behind the ridding of smartphone restrictions can be supported in the novella Anthem. Within the story Equality 7-2521 acts guilty for being above average when it comes to intelligence he exclaims, “So we fought against this curse. We tried to forget our lessons, but we always remembered,” (Rand 21). Equality here is acting as if he were a criminal convicted for a crime that in his heart he knows he committed. He feels guilty about the God given talent he receives, and tries to will it away even though that would be impossible. Equality is incapable of becoming inferior in terms of intelligence and wishing away his individual qualities. In our society today we value individualism, without this value, technological advancements such as the smartphone wouldn’t have been developed and produced. Without restrictions in doing individual research extraordinary things can be accomplished, this plays a role in both a working and schooling environment. If you remove governmental restrictions of education for Equality, he wouldn’t feel guilty about using his intelligence to benefit society around him. This works hand and hand with the availability of smartphones in an educational environment. Students would have the ability to freely dive deeper into any subject they are currently learning or have trouble with. Allowing them to further enhance their knowledge on topics being taught, which are teachers lasting goals for their students.     

Smartphone usage in schools can help better prepare students for their future occupations.  It is stated in U.S.News, "We think school should be preparing students for real life—and in real life, people use cell phones," says Nielsen, the primary author of the blog The Innovative Educator. "If you're making an artificial world inside the school, you're not preparing them for the real world," (Koebler). Technology in our world today is growing at a remarkably fast pace, giving teachers a challenging task. How do you best prepare students for the world around them? Currently educators provide students with both fundamental skills (reading, writing, etc.) and less tangible skills including working in a group, critical thinking, and to explore their curiosity. However, to thrive in a 21st century society you must be comfortable with technology itself and be able to exploit its uses. In order to have a classroom environment resemble the real world, newer technologies such as the smartphone must be in the hands of students.

The world around us today has become more globalized than ever before in our history. In the working world competition is at a high, where those working in a first world economy (e.g. the U.S.A.) may lose a job opportunity to someone in a third world economy (e.g. a developing country) (Weston).   To have the classroom model the globalized world, students can use smartphones to connect with other students from around the world. This form of social learning will allow students to broaden their knowledge on distant lands, their cultures, and the sciences within these places. Within the novella Anthem, Equality 7-2521 struggles with the idea of not being able to explore the world around him. He states, “But we loved the Science of Things. We wished to know. We wished to know about all the things which make the earth around us. We asked so many questions that the Teachers forbade it,” (Rand 23). The government does not allow Equality 7-2521 to follow his passion and explore the sciences in the world around him. This relates to restrictions on smartphones in school. By removing this technology students would not have the ability to interact with and learn from different places. They would be prohibited from a globalized learning, which would negatively impact their preparation for future occupations.

While many individuals support smartphone usage in schools, there are some who disagree with this claim. As stated in the Boston Globe, the teacher Miriam Morgenstern is clearly frustrated with the usage of smartphones in her classroom. She classifies all the texting, tweeting, and snapchatting as, “an incredible distraction, and makes it much more difficult to teach,” (Matchan). Students are accustomed to using their phones at multiple points throughout the day for social purposes. She claims a classroom environment will not prevent them from using it. Miriam Morgenstern further displays her disapproval of phones in school stating, “You’ll get kids saying, ‘I’ll look something up for English, and while I’m here let me quickly check my Instagram or Twitter feed…” (Matchan). Those who agree with this claim believe that smartphones when equipped with students can be a distraction to the individual and others around them. Individuals against phone usage believe that the student dishonesty to the “only using the phone for school purposes policy” would decrease productivity in the classroom. Within Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, a young man named Siddhartha puts behind all of his distractions (he believes he has already learned everything he could from the Brahmins) to go and find himself. He admits to himself, “I will no longer study the Yoga-Veda, Atharva-Veda, or asceticism, or any other teachings. I will learn from myself, be my own pupil,” (Hesse 39). Siddhartha wants to rid of the distractions in his life to further his education (based off of his own experiences). This resembles the idea that ridding of smartphones in school will lower distractions and improve education.

However, this opposing claim can be overridden by the careful supervision of teachers. To reduce on the distraction caused by these gadgets, teachers can simply regulate the time of using of cell phones in school. In a disorganized classroom with little rule enforcement smartphones will be a problem, but smartphones have the ability to expand a student's knowledge and increase classroom productivity. The pressure should be placed on teachers to both except smartphone use (due to the technology based age we live in) and control its use among students. You cannot expect a teenager to never be distracted on their phones, when even adults from time to time do as well. Thus, strict rules and supervision come into play. If teachers do stay disciplined in enforcing their smartphone policies, the learning and safety benefits, with the improvement on preparing students for the future will substantially improve the education experience.

Educational systems in our society today are debating if smartphones should be allowed in a classroom environment, accompanied by the student. Or if smartphones should not be allowed in a learning environment. There are many benefits that clearly outweigh any drawback of students using these devices inside the classroom. Smartphones should be used in school because they guarantee a higher degree of safety for students. Students will have the ability to contact their parents in any type of emergency (natural disasters/predators) and both guardians and teachers will be able to identify the student's location during school hours. Smartphones can be used as learning aids and improve students quality of learning. Applications only available on smartphones and the ability of getting answers to any question very quickly improve classroom efficiency. Lastly, smartphones prepare students for future jobs in our changing society. Being that our world today is very globalized, smartphones can connect students to the rest of the world (resembling the real world). Our society is being altered as technology continues to improve. Our changing society is a call for an updating of our educational systems. Teaching by using lectures and other old fashion techniques does not educate students in a manner preparing them for the 21st century. A change is necessary, and with technology being a vital part to our lifestyle today it would only make sense to incorporate top notch technology in educational facilities. Smartphones are the future in technology. The Age of Technology is calling for a change in school systems, and it is our responsibility to answer.

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