On User Devices in Schools

Cell phones have been arriving in schools in the packets of students for the entirety of the 21st century. For most of this century, the cell phones they have been bringing into schools are smartphones which can distract students with a myriad of channels for communications and apps. Those channels for communication and apps can also be used for educationally valuable activities. 

The challenge for educators is to determine the appropriate role for these devices in classes. The cameras installed on cameras can be used to capture projects as they are in progress, performances, and other valuable activities. It may benefit students to use those devices in their lessons. While it may seem leveraging the devices students have is a practice that should be embraced by all, it can be problematic in some instances.  

  • Who is liable for damage sustained when a student’s device is damaged while they are using it in class? Does it matter if they were voluntarily using it? Does it matter if they were encouraged to use it by teachers? These are questions that school administrators must answer and the policy and procedure recommendations they make must be followed by others. 
  • Are teachers responsible for knowing how to use students’ devices if they are to be used in class? Consider the problems of students asking for help to enter mathematics problems into a calculator application with which the instructor is unfamiliar.  
  • Do we allow students (or teachers) to connect their personal devices to the school networks?