WHOSE IN­TER­ESTS

New Straits Times - - Letters -

IT was re­cently an­nounced that stu­dents in 10,000 schools would be al­lowed to bring cer­tain mo­bile de­vices to class be­gin­ning next year. The state­ment was re­gret­tably vague. We do not know ex­actly which mo­bile de­vices were be­ing re­ferred to. Thank­fully, mo­bile phones were clearly ex­cluded, as the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter felt that would be a dis­trac­tion in class. There was also men­tion of a time limit on the us­age of de­vices and that guide­lines were cur­rently be­ing drafted on this is­sue.

The cur­rent pol­icy in govern­ment schools pro­hibits stu­dents from bring­ing elec­tronic de­vices to schools.

How­ever, there are many rea­sons why the in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tronic de­vices, such as iPads, tablets and other mo­bile de­vices, may be a good thing. They may make the class­room ex­pe­ri­ence more in­ter­ac­tive, which can in turn make the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence more fun and en­joy­able for stu­dents.

They are great com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools, and im­prove speed and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion. More­over, teach­ers and stu­dents can email each other as­sign­ments and home­work. Teach­ers can also take at­ten­dance on their iPads, hence re­duc­ing theirs and the school’s car­bon foot­print in an eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able man­ner.

There is an ar­gu­ment for more shar­ing of re­sources among stu­dents, teach­ers and peer groups. Elec­tronic de­vices make re­search on the In­ter­net fast, easy and ac­ces­si­ble.

Ev­ery­thing is sim­pli­fied; it takes the mere tap of a fin­ger. It is the era of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

But, while all this may be true, do we re­ally want to al­low kids to bring mo­bile de­vices to school every day? This is an is­sue that has di­vided aca­demi­cians, and while there is no one right view, here are some rea­sons why we need to think care­fully be­fore al­low­ing mo­bile de­vices into class­rooms:

A TIME limit on us­age. I think this is one of the most cru­cial fac­tors. How much time is go­ing to be spent in the class­room with elec­tronic mo­bile de­vices? Who will de­cide? Will it be stan­dard­ised across schools? Who will draw out the les­son plans? Will they be used in a man­ner that com­ple­ments

The de­ci­sion to al­low stu­dents to bring mo­bile de­vices to school should be thor­oughly ex­am­ined.

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