As the school year begins for many, I wanted to share some facts about the connection I have to my cell phone. You are free to pass judgement on them below. I am not necessarily proud about them. But they are accurate descriptions of at least my own reality, and, I have a feeling, many of our students.
My mobile phone is with me at all times. Have you seen those posters at public swimming pools which remind parents to be at an arm’s length of their little children? I basically take that approach with my phone.
My device is like my external memory. If I don’t have it with me, I will not be able to remember many things.
I need my phone to connect to a handful of people I am close to, dozens of people that are part of my communities, and thousands that I’ve never met but with whom I maintain an important, ambient connection.
For the closest people in my life, my phone means we are, or can be, in constant communication.
When I’m curious about something, I use my phone to look up information online, ask questions of my online communities, or often a blend of both.
I would estimate that 95% (if not more) of the media I consume and words I read are now via my flat, shiny, pocket-ready device.
I play Pokemon Go on my phone.
I like my phone. I’m fond of it.
You may relate to the above, find it a perfect example of the world being nigh, or something in between. But regardless of your editorial thoughts on the matter, you would probably concede that many of our youth also share this view of their own device’s utility and connection to themselves.
So, what will your approach as an educator be? Will you try to ignore this reality? Will you become reactionary to it? Will you leverage it? Will you intentionally interrupt it for pedagogical purposes?