Daisy described Saint Paul as she inherited it: a school that was afraid of technology, putting a lockdown on phones. This meant that Daisy had to give in-school suspension to any student who was caught with a cell phone. Upon hearing about the phone lockdown, the audience at DLDay let out a huge, exasperated sigh. There were audible “oh no”s from teachers speckled across the auditorium.
If we still have schools punishing students for bringing devices to school - a policy that elicited a deeply negative response from hundreds of educators in the room - it tells me that we need to talk more about this. Perhaps break some stereotypes about what devices in the hands of students should - and can - look like during the day.
This won’t be the first publication that covers the way mobile is changing (and has already changed) the way we live, work, and play. Saying so is no longer a cutting-edge statement; I don’t expect you to be impressed that we’re acknowledging the advent of the smartphone as the biggest opportunity for connection we’ve ever seen.
Instead, I hope we can start a conversation about how mobile can help us usher in new waves of successful paperless programs and 24/7 learning initiatives.
And here are the facts: the Pew Research Center tells us that nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners. This same report found that 19% of Americans own a smartphone but either lack traditional broadband service at home or lack an alternative way to get online beyond their phone - a group known as “smartphone-dependent.” For 7% of Americans, both of these conditions applied.
This tells me that mobile is the starting point for schools that want to institute paperless initiatives but lack the resources for full 1:1 programs. We might not yet have the guarantee that every student has a computer with internet access when they go home, but more and more we’re seeing the guarantee that those students will have mobile devices with a data plan.
We’ve talked to our users and researched how schools have instituted different device programs - what’s worked, what hasn’t - and we’ve come up with a long list of questions about how we can leverage these tools, how we should adjust our learning culture, and what we need to do on the tech side to ensure there are quality ways for students dependent on mobile devices to stay in touch with their class and on top of their work.