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Linda Polin (not verified)

Passing notes or attempting

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Passing notes or attempting to cheat on exams is not something new made possible by the cell phone. Kids have been passing notes, writng on their hands and shoes, and finding ways to communicate with each other in class for generations. Wesley is partially correct. If the evaluation process were better, the issue would probably go away. I would add that school is one of the few places where the worker is expected to complete tasks and demonstrate competence in doing so, without help of any kind. Most supervisors frown on colleagues who are unable to seek help in a timely fashion. Most workers find themselves interacting with others and collaboratively constructing solutions to tasks regularly. In the social world, again outside of school, people connect constantly and through a variety of electronic and traditional unplugged means. Only in school are kids urged to be quiet in class. Indeed, in my daughter's middle school lunch area, lunch duty aides yell at the kids to be quiet. Do YOU eat your lunch silently next to your peers? I think Ron's brilliance is his recognition and adoption of the main communication channel that his students use. (Did you know many students think of email as 'old school'?) When every new technology points to communication and collaboration, I grow weary of the predictable dark interpretation, offered by an educator, about how new technology (cell phones, podcasts, etc) will enable kids to cheat or otherwise disengage with the teacher's agenda. There is definitely a digital divide in this country and it is growing. It is the distance between digital culture (not exclusively a "youth culture" by the way) and school culture. I say, "You go, Ron!"
Zaheer Kidvai (not verified)

The sharing of answers bit

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The sharing of answers bit is a result of the type of meaningless tests we've devised. I can't imagine a student messaging long essay type answers and the other then rewriting them in her/his own words. As for messaging the significant other rather than listening to a lecture, walk into a lecture or a performance that engages a student. If their attention is grabbed, you don't see much text messaging going on. Some always will - but, then, so does note-passing, whispering and doodling. Heres a small incident - although not necessarily representative: Roger Schank lectured at a conference here (here is Pakistan!) where the school system organizing the event for hundreds of its teachers also invited high school students. Through the lecture students loved it (cell phones had been taken away to prevent disturbance). The very first student I met after the lecture said "I wish I'd had a cellphone. I'd have broadcast the lecture to my friends in another school."
Wesley Fryer (not verified)

I think Debbie's comment is

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I think Debbie's comment is the same thought that many educators have. My response is that we need to look at the types of assessments we are giving students, and strive to make them more authentic. We need to use formative and ongoing assessment methods (not just summative assessment that is so high-stakes) which students CANNOT FAKE. Which they have a very hard time cheating on, or can't cheat on at all. Performance based assessments, and group as well as individual projects which result in the creation of different knowledge products, need to be utilized more than simple multiple choice tests. We all know the world is not multiple choice in the simple way our tests assess: it is complex and multi-dimensional. Our assessments should be messier. The result can be a more authentic educational experience, and cell phones can fit right into that model. Wesley Fryer Lubbock, Texas www.speedofcreativity.org
DebbieK (not verified)

A big difference in a cell

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A big difference in a cell phone with text messaging and a doodle pad is the opportunity to share test answers with someone in another class. What high schooler wouldn't rather text message his/her significant other than listen to a lecture and take notes?
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