Another dot in the blogosphere?

Underutilised or misused?

Posted on: July 4, 2016

This was a tweet that was both funny and sad.

Many people in the so-called first world carry phones in their pockets or bags that are portals to the world’s information. They seem to be underutilised when their typical use is “to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers”.

Not just these uses, of course, but more of the same. As a result, these are very much less than what phones could be used for.

I say that phones are misused, particularly in schools, if their full power is not harnessed. Today’s mobile phones are not just handy Google portals. They are also:

  • Connectors to more knowledgeable others
  • Collators of news and information
  • Providers of sounding boards
  • Oases of ideas
  • Amplifiers of messages
  • Translators of many languages
  • Tools for making e-portfolio artefacts
  • Navigators to resources and treasures
  • Monitors and managers of our time and energy

And so much more.

But so little of this potential is used for learning in schools because dominant pedagogy is shaped by the past and driven by fear. Consider how the list of possibilities quickly becomes one of worries about:

  • Cheating
  • Misinformation
  • Spreading propaganda
  • Radical indoctrination
  • Creating confusion
  • Wasting of time and energy


The same tool or instrument in different hands does different things.

A hammer in the hands of a vandal destroys public property. A hammer in the hands of a skilled worker repairs that damage.

A violin in the hands of an amateur might sound like a cat being disembowelled. A violin in the hands of an artist soothes the savage beast.

The difference in mindset and practice is down to the type of teachers and how we prepare them. The type of teachers is a function of recruitment. Preparation is a function of professional development. Recruitment does not offer a perfect filter; professional development is an attempt to manage the people you have.

If teachers are underutilising mobile technology or misusing it, what are we doing to right this wrong?

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