Home Op-Eds Banning Smartphones in Classroom: Regression or Reform?

Banning Smartphones in Classroom: Regression or Reform?

Moroccan Minister of Education Said Amzazi wants too ban smartphones

Fez – Without a doubt, technology has permeated every aspect of our daily lives. The leap has been so giant going from smart TV, to smartphones, smart recording contact lenses, tiny spying cameras, nano devices and robots, artificially intelligent human-like beings, and even emotionally intelligent sex dolls! What the near future of AI will unveil would be way more astounding!

Whether we like it or not, the age we live in today is by far the most technologically advanced era in human history (unless the advocates of ancient nuclear and space technology come up with strong evidence). Facing the twenty-first century challenges and embracing the radical changes that they impose on our way of life (rather than evading them like an ostrich with its head in the sand) is what can make us immune and in line with the technological evolution of humanity.

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One of the most ubiquitous technological inventions nowadays is the smartphone; a revolutionary invention allowing connectivity to billions of people around the world and pulling the ‘edges’ and boundaries of the globe closer and closer. Not only that, smartphones can be very effective learning tools if properly integrated in the classroom. Though it is called a phone, and calling is only a very minor function of smartphones. A smartphone is a powerful portable computer that can be a very effective learning device in any classroom.

In the developed world, educationalists started theorizing on the usefulness of smartphones in the classroom and measuring their benefits and disadvantages right after the first touch-screen phone appeared in the market. What they found is that the benefits definitely outweigh and outnumber the disadvantages. Here are some of the primary benefits:

1- Smartphones allow connectivity to the Internet for research and referencing.

2- They allow the installation and use of educational applications (dictionaries, flashcards, etc.)

3- Students can snap a picture of the lesson, vocabulary, homework or whatever scribbled on the whiteboard/ blackboard instead of wasting time on copying.

4- Smart phones can encourage collaborative learning. Students can share homework, useful links, dates and schedules with each other via email or text messaging.

As for teachers, the use of smartphones is even more important since they allow instant access to a huge amount of information, archives, online resources and video and audio materials that can be used to enrich the lesson. In light of these facts, the decision by the Moroccan Ministry of National and Higher Education to ban the use of phones in the classroom by students and teachers alike is indeed unfathomable if not profoundly embarrassing!

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We understand that the use of smartphones in the classroom can have some downsides which can be addressed in many ways. But the out-of-the-blue hasty decision to ban smartphones altogether by the ministry, which is supposed to encourage innovation and the integration of untraditional learning methods, is indeed retrogressive.

Our classrooms are in dire need of audio-visual materials and technological devices that facilitate learning and bring it to life instead of the conventional talk-and-chalk method which renders the classroom a boring dungeon. As teachers and education practitioners, we are fed up with the unsustainable and volatile personal decisions of ministers who come and go leaving a lot of frustration and despair eating up the hearts of the real knights on the battleground.

Education is not a sector for experimenting with uncalculated and unstudied decisions. Education is the future and destiny of the whole nation.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity. 

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