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Opinion: Mobile Phones in the Classroom Intensify Inequality

Opinion: Mobile Phones in the Classroom Intensify Inequality

Educator Lola Okolosie understands the touted benefits from allowing mobile phones in the classroom.

For one, 90 percent of today's teens own one and therefore the devices can be worked into districts' BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives that save money by allowing students to use their own devices for digital learning.

But according to Okolosie, the benefits from mobile phones in the classroom are a facade that do not outweigh the negative impacts on learning.

Not only do mobile phones cause a distraction in the classroom, they also "act as symbols that reinforce inequality," she said on TheGuardian.com.

Okolosie mentions a study from earlier this year that "found that banning mobile phones improved exam results by 2%, even when gender and class had been accounted for."

Though 2% might seem small, it equates to one extra week of school a year, and in that same study, "[f]or those entitled to free school meals or with special educational needs the ban was doubly effective."

"Investigations such as this throw into question whether mobile phones could, in fact, intensify inequality," she said.

On that same note of mobile phones potentially intensifying inequality, Okolosie argues that devices represent status symbols that create pressure for parents struggling to make ends meet.

"And here is a much less-discussed problem, the pressure of keeping up appearances."

"Today, most of us can agree that school uniforms are a great social leveller. Standing out as the one with crap clothes is hard to do when everyone is dressed identically. The argument against mobile phones should be similar. Keep them out of schools. Allow children to learn in peace, free from the worry that the phone is one giant signal of their reduced means."

Read her full argument here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/01/2015

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