Classroom ban on distracting personal tech


Yet study shows UK teachers expect smartphones and mobile apps to become central to learning over the next five years

Personal tech devices are being banned in classrooms due to teachers’ fears that they will cause distraction, although many recognise they may have future uses in the classroom.

New research by Canvas, the cloud-based learning management platform for academic institutions and companies worldwide, reveals that over a third of teachers (34%) in the UK have banned personal devices like mobile phones and tablets from the classroom, significantly more than in US schools (23%).

Many teachers (62%) believe such technology distracts students from learning, although the profession remains broadly open to the potential future benefits, with three quarters (74%) agreeing that when integrated effectively and used as an education tool rather than a leisure device, such technology can make their job easier.

The findings come at a time when the Department for Education is pushing hard for teachers to integrate technology into lessons. For many teachers the problem lies not with the technology itself but with a lack of proper instruction. Almost four in 10 (38%) believe their school is not providing sufficient training to either teachers or students in how to employ mobile and other technology in the classroom.

Nevertheless, the concept of bring your own device (BYOD) is being adopted by a handful of trailblazing schools. BYOD means allowing students to bring their own laptops, smart phones and tablets into schools, connect them to the network and work on them. The concept can also include software and apps, if students are enabled to use cloud services and other tools on the web.

BYOD is already widely adopted in universities and workplaces across the UK, although the issues for schools are more complex. However, teachers do recognise that mobile applications and students’ own devices are likely to become more central to the learning experience in the future, with two thirds (67%) placing them in the top three teaching technologies in five years’ time.

At a time when British schools are facing increasing class sizes and a teacher shortage, effective learning will be key to maintaining good results. And with increasing budget constraints, allowing students to use their own devices could be a cost effective solution for schools, stated Canvas.

Samantha Blyth, director of schools at Canvas said: “There is no doubt that mobile technology is going to have a huge impact on learning in the future, but it’s understandable that teachers are concerned that personal devices can be a distraction. The key to unlocking the potential will be to find ways to integrate personal devices into learning in a controlled way. At Canvas, we are helping schools find the right support and guidance in how to choose the right products to meet their needs, and then how to get the best from them.”


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