South Korean Schools Can Now Disable Students' Smartphones During Class
March 20, 2014 10:44 AM
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Several schools are adopting the system while others have opted out after tests
School officials in South Korea are moving forward with a plan that will allow the school to disable smartphones of students during class. Korean officials have reportedly been conducting trials of the new system using remote management software installed on the smartphones of the students.
The software being used is an app called iSmartKeeper and is able to control what services and apps the student has access to from their device. The smartphone can be locked into one of six modes at the teacher's discretion.
The system allows the teacher to turn the phones off completely, allow emergency calls only, to only allow phone calls and SMS, and one mode even allows the teacher to turn off specific apps. The goal of the program is to keep kids from being distracted by content on their smartphones while class is going.
At the same time, the schools want the smartphones and other devices to be usable as teaching aids. The software can also enable geolocation to keep an eye on where kids are during school hours.
The app has been used in trial tests inside 11 schools within Seoul so far -- three of those schools reportedly opted to not use the system after students began rooting their devices to avoid the restrictions.
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From my experience...
3/20/2014 12:06:18 PM
As a high school teacher and school administrator for the past 27 years I've seen the progression of distractions firsthand. Fads come and go, but the infiltration of electronic communication / entertainment / information is unlike anything I've seen. It is by no means a fad. Hence, accepting and utilizing the devices eliminates the predictable resistance that comes with forcing students to part with a device that has become an ingrained part of their daily existence.
There are two approaches to student cell phones that I have seen used successfully, more so when used in conjunction.
1) Train the students. From the start of the school year I trained my students on appropriate use of their devices. There is a time and place each class period for their usage. Each period there is a set countdown to "airplane mode". Students respect my position in the classroom and, hence, respect my rules. Likewise, there are swift consequences for violations of the rule.
2) Embrace the access. I've found ways for students to constructively use their devices as part of lessons, either as a research device or calculator. Students are notified prior to the lesson that devices will be allowed, but only on cue. This means it sits on the desk, but unused until that time.
It takes time to retrain the students on usage in my classroom. What makes it more difficult (but not impossible) are classrooms where there are no rules on the devices. But this is true for any teacher trying to overcome the shortcoming of those teachers with poor classroom management.
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