Student Reflective Perceptions of High School Educational Cell Phone Technology Usage

By Humble-Thaden, Beth | Journal of Technology Studies, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Student Reflective Perceptions of High School Educational Cell Phone Technology Usage


Humble-Thaden, Beth, Journal of Technology Studies


Abstract

High school students are prohibited from using cell phones during the school day within most public schools in the United States; the majority of students, however, maintain possession of a personal cell phone within the high school setting. Most administrators and teachers regard cell phone possession and usage as a negative distraction and deterrent to learning rather than as an educational learning tool. This study investigates college freshman students' reflective perceptions of potential high school utilization of cell phones by students and teachers as educational learning tools. Positive response from surveys suggests there is interest in and potential for educational implementation and use of cell phones as learning tools in schools. Perceptional gender differences were uncovered suggesting further study is necessary before successful implementation can occur.

School policy regarding cell phones, within the majority of public schools in the United States, is generally quite prohibitive and requires students to leave their cell phones at home or turn them off and leave them in their lockers during the school day (Obringer & Coffey, 2007). Other schools report changing policy from banning cell phone use to allowing students to use them before or after school (St. Gerard, 2006). As a result of the rapidly occurring technological advances within the cell phone industry, schools have been hard pressed to make and keep current educational policy regarding the use of cell phones (Obringer & Coffey, 2007).

Students' personal and social cell phone use has been well established, but how do high school students reflect on the usage of such phones in an educational setting? Determining student perception toward using the educational technological capabilities of cell phones within a learning environment is a first step. Knowledge of students' attitudes could possibly lead to, aid in, and influence future decision making regarding the implementation of cell phone use for academic purposes within high school classrooms.

Literature Review

Administrators and teachers often regard the use of cell phones by students at school as a deterrent to student learning (Johnson & Kritsonis, 2007). Administrators often are concerned about inappropriate use of cell phones in schools and this is the major cause of restricting their use (Obringer & Coffey, 2007; St. Gerard, 2006). Cell phones ringing during a class time present unwanted distractions and, for some students, sending or receiving text messages can lead to cheating (Gilroy, 2003). The existing possibility of posting improper photos on the Internet is also a cause for concern (Obringer & Coffey, 2007). For these reasons, students are not allowed to visibly possess cell phones within most high school classrooms. The challenge faced by many administrators is to effectively balance the needs of the school with the demands of the students and the parents.

Parents characteristically agree with school policy and want their children to abide by the rules (Obringer & Coffey, 2007). In contrast, regarding school emergencies or schedule changes, parents have often demanded immediate communication, which cell phones can provide (Johnson & Kritsonis, 2007; Obringer & Coffey, 2007). Parents report safety as the primary reason for supplying their children with cell phones, whereas children place a greater value on the technological capabilities of the cell phone and its potential to facilitate socialization (Johnson & Kritsonis, 2007; Obringer & Coffey, 2007).

According to Prensky (2001a), students of today are referred to as "Digital Natives." They have grown up with technology and multitasking, and they are in the habit of processing information quickly (Prensky, 2001a). Digital Natives want to be involved in active learning as opposed to sitting passively in class (Prensky, 2001a). They thrive on interactive technology, for example, tools like the cell phone (Prensky, 2001b; Prensky, 2005). …

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