Mobiles in the classroom

Education department commissions report on guidelines for use of mobile phones in schools, with most teachers calling for a regulatory framework

Regulation, not banning is the response of teachers and experts to the question of whether mobile phones should be allowed in schools. This week, education minister Josep Bargalló announced he has asked the School Council to report on guidelines for the use of mobiles in schools.

Despite differences between schools, the feeling in the education community is that there is a need for a general regulatory framework. While the question of whether to allow younger children to have mobiles at school has dominated the debate, recently the focus has been on the decision by the French authorities to ban mobiles in schools.

Soon after, the Spanish authorities said they would look into to following France’s example, but it seems Catalonia will take another path. Bargalló says the Catalan government’s aim for the next school year is to take “a step forward in the use of mobile technology as an educational tool and a tool for improving the system, and that means fitting their use to the conditions in each school.” The minister also says that funding permitting, next year “there will be new resources for the educational use of mobile technology.”

Right now, each school decides how to regulate mobile phones, with “common sense” the most oftenly used term by teachers, who generally point to the positive uses of mobiles in class, particularly in the later years. Santiago Moll, a secondary school teacher and author of the book, Empantallados, a guide for parents in the digital age, calls for clear guidelines, and gives the example of the Badalona VII school, where he teaches. “We have freed the corridors of mobiles,” he says, explaining that in the five minutes between classes neither pupils nor teachers are allowed to look at their phones, forcing them to interact, while they are allowed to use their devices during break times.

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