Module 9 – Banning Digital Devices in Schools

The DEC report (2013) Bring Your Own Device in Schools cites a number of experts (Clifford, 2012; Sheringer, 2011; Lee, 2012; Sweeney, 2012; & Walling, 2012) to support the observation that digital devices play an important part in students’ lives. The DEC report further notes that some of these experts also argue that digital devices should also play an integral role in students’ learning lives. Thomas $ Munoz (2016) surveyed 628 high school students and found that 90.7% were using mobile phone features for school-related work. They did not however find universal support for the instructional use of phones. Just over 70% of students supported integrating mobile phones and believed that mobile phones supported learning. Some students had serious concerns about disruptions caused by mobile phones in the classroom and by inappropriate usage.

The key benefit of mobile phones is their ability to engage students anywhere in learning (Traxler, 2009 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz, 2016). Other benefits are their ability to personalise instruction (Steel, 2012 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz), to collaborate (Corbell & Valdes-Corbell, 2007 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz), to differentiate instruction (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz) and to nurture increased levels of student agency (Sha, Looi, Chen & Zhang, 2012 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz). Liu et al., (2015 as cited in Thomas & Nunoz) found that a majority of studies of mobile-learning showed positive learning outcomes and 13% found no difference between mobile and traditional learning. The barriers to mobile phone use in the classroom are disruptions, such as ringing, cheating and harmful activities, such as cyberbullying and sexting (Thomas & Nunoz).

I work at an international school in Shanghai, China in which all students own mobile phones but the devices are banned in the classroom. The devices are viewed as a distraction. I agree with DEC (2013) that personal digital devices should be used for student learning. I therefore allow students to use their devices for learning-related activities but admit that it is difficult to monitor whether devices are always being used for learning-related activities. Students should be given opportunities to develop self-regulatory skills to use their devices appropriately and at the same time there should be consequences for abusing the privilege involved. We as teachers however must ensure that the learning benefits outweigh distractions and other negative impacts.


Department of Education and Communities (DEC). (2013). Bring Your Own Device in Schools (BYOD): 2013 Literature Review, State of NSW, Department of Education and Communities, Retrieved November 10, 2016 from

Thomas, K, & Munoz, M. (2015). Hold the Phone! High School Students’ Perception of Mobile Phone Integration in the Classroom. American Secondary Education, Vol. 44(3), 19-37. Retrieved January 20th , 2017 from CSU Library


Author: simonromijn

Science Teacher

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