Understandably, because of the negative press and fear of bullying etc, many teachers are worried about all sorts of implications, but these same schools are usually keen to learn from schools who are following this policy. The problem is, when examples are asked for... things often go a bit quiet! Fortunately, there are schools willing to share who have been doing this for a while - you just need to know where to look!
So, there are a few key rules when using handhelds. Nominet ran a classroom practitioner focussed project, where classroom practitioners from around the world worked together to produce and evidence good practise. The report, which is still very relevant (and handy!) can be found here. It's filled with excellent evidence and suggested policy starting points which might be of use. There's also quite a nice e-safety policy you could have a read of here (Saltash.net is an inspirational school so maybe have a wander around there site whilst you are there too).
So what about if you, a classroom teacher are keen to start this, but the school is a bit nervous. Well, I'd say any sensible school will run some sort of a trial using handhelds first... and this is where you come in! My proposal to the school was: we know many students have phones, we can't all have access to the internet, can we trial using the phones in some lessons. We explored this and agreed it was worth a shot! To be clear, our school policy was students may bring in phones but they are to be turned off, in the bottom of bags. If they are seen out, they will be confiscates, handed to student services and parents will be required to come into school and collect the item. The was our starting point, and we built from there. We began with some simple rules:
- Phones are out, on the desk, on top of homework diaries at all times.
- Phones can be used to aid learning, but you can be asked at any time to evidence this.
- Blackberry Messenger, Whats App or any other messaging tool is acceptable but if a teacher asks to see what is written, you must be prepared to show it!
- If a phone is hidden (i.e. messaging under the table etc) we will assume it is inappropriate use and confiscate the phone.
- If you are filming or taking a photo, you must always asks the persons permission first (and explain how it will be used!)
- If you are not on task, you will receive 2 warnings and the a detention, in line with school policy.
- If anything inappropriate is sent to you, please do not delete it, show it to the teacher so the appropriate sanction can be issued.
- If you exit something on screen or move the phone away as the teacher approaches, the phone will be confiscated.
- It's always one between two. Share the learning!