'Ban does not work': Cellphones need to be part of curriculum, says professor

Banning cellphones in schools is ineffective, says the Canada research chair in technologies and education, adding students need to learn to use the technologies effectively.

Thierry Karsenti of the University of Montreal made those comments to CBC's Island Morning following the banning of cellphones at Charlottetown's Stonepark Intermediate, after what was described as a "gradual ramp up of misuse."

In particular, the school was concerned about photos being taken without permission.

Karsenti acknowledged it is a difficult issue, but said a ban is the wrong approach.

"A simple ban does not work. Students still find ways to bring their cellphones in class," he said.

Good digital citizens

Young teenagers have a very hard time ignoring alerts on their phones, said Karsenti, but they can also be excellent research tools. For both those reasons, schools need to find ways to work them into the curriculum.

"It's related to what schools should be doing, educating students, but educating them to become good citizens in the 21st century," said Karsenti.

"Doing this makes students more responsible eventually."

Most classrooms integrating cellphones teach that there is a time to take them out and a time to put them away, he said. There are different strategies for non-cellphone times: having the students put them away, having the teacher collect them, or placing them face down on the desk.

The current policy of P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch is that students should not use electronic devices during school hours.

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