smartphones in Ontario classrooms

On September 16, 2010 The Globe and Mail, (Toronto, Canada) published an article entitled “Dalton McGuinty ignites debate over BlackBerrys in the classroom.“ The author of the article, Josh Wingrove, is reporting on a statement made by Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario. Mr McGuinty was commenting on the issue of whether students should be allowed to use BlackBerrys or other types of “smart phone” in their classrooms. He was responding to the news that the school board in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, was considering changing its policy on this matter. At the moment, the school board bans all use of cell phones in class, but they may, in future allow their use when (and only when) it is part of a teacher’s lesson plan. “There is a right way and wrong way to use these things,” Mr McGuinty is quoted as saying; and he added, “They are like conduits for information and we want our students to be well informed.”

The author of the article also raises another issue: how it will be possible to prevent students from being distracted by text messages etcetera even if they are allowed to bring their phones to class only when their teacher asks them to do so. He quotes the president of a Toronto teachers’ organization as saying that he does not think it will be possible to stop that sort of abuse. Josh Wingrove also points out that in Ontario it is against the law to use cell phones while driving, and moreover, that the premier himself has banned their use inside his own cabinet meetings.