Before you join the chorus with a resounding “Yes” to Mobile in online and face-to-face classrooms, HQ Moodler and the MoodleMoot panel moderator Gavin Henrick would like to play devil’s advocate:
«On this panel, I’m sort of pushing for keeping the desktop and throwing the mobile away, in fact, because if there is anything in this world I could ‘uninvent’ it would be this.»
Holding a smartphone up, these words were how Henrick officially kicked off the panel discussion at MoodleMoot UK & Ireland. Nervous laughter from the audience ensued. While Henrick’s proposed “opinion” is extreme—and neither attendees nor I are quite sure of how jokingly the this was said— it does contain some wise words of caution. The benefits of keeping students on alert about their many pending tasks can potentially be outweighed by anxiety and lack of sleep. Admittedly, Henrick recognizes that before this event he was not aware that he could schedule a period during which his phone would not buzz.
The panelists were quick to highlight this and other gaps in Henrick’s argument, first by taking the idea to the extreme. An always-on mobile experience has led to accusations of invasion of personal life (by getting emails at 11 pm) and even workplace cyberbullying. From there, it became clear that any new technology comes with a list of warnings, even if the impending dangers are not immediately clear.
But when it comes to advancing learning, if the mobile phone today symbolizes one thing, it is potential. Teachers have the choice to toss that aside and ask students to “turn off their phones during this class, [therefore] turning off a world of knowledge and opportunity.”