When students and parents start their shopping list for the new school year one item on the top of their list is a cell phone. How times have changed. The idea of searching for paper and pencils is taking a back seat to modern technology. The cell phone companies have caught on and they are releasing so many new cell phones each month that it is hard for anyone to catch up. Cell phones have reached epidemic proportions throughout American society. You cannot go to a city or countryside road without finding someone who is using a cell phone.
A growing phenomenon among parents and students is text messaging. The ringing of the phone has been silenced by the tapping of alphabetic keys. Messages between cell phones can be transferred instantaneously. Students are using text messaging to respond to each other and to communicate with their parents. Abbreviations are often used when text messages are sent. It represents a form of communication that has broad implications for society. Text messaging can take up time that a student would normally spend studying. At the same time students can send a reminder that a homework assignment is due. It has become a two edged sword that allows parents to pick up a child from football practice or to plan a trip to a movie.
Communicating fast has become an even faster way of keeping parents in touch with their student. Parents realize that when their son/daughter goes back to school putting down the cell phone to focus will require real discipline. Students are too easily disrupted by the buzz of their cell phones. The speed at which a student communicates can cause a chain reaction of positive or negative results for a student who has a test on the next day. Peer pressure can even occur when one student yields to the temptation to respond to a cell phone call rather than study.
Communication by way of the cell phone is here to stay. School districts are forced to come up with strong statements about when the cell phone may be used during the school day. Students try to find creative ways to ignore the rules. Parents are frustrated when they must go to school to retrieve their son/daughters cell phone. Learning by way of the cell phone has been a challenge for most schools. Cell phone use is not easily incorporated into class instruction like an actual computer. Some professionals have found ways to download papers to the cell phone and read them while they are traveling but this is not a priority for students.
Some students are using their cell phones to discuss assignments and presentations they are giving. Students can save some of the major points of their presentation on their cell phone. Students can send a reminder that a quiz is occurring tomorrow to a friend. Messages like it's time to get prepared. Some students put reminders in their cell phone and the phone makes a funny noise to remind them to start preparation for a major test. The calendar can also be used as a way to manage time.
During the twenty first century technology will continue to influence the back to school journey. Schools that use laptop computers to educate students are already springing up all over the country. Cell phones do offer news, television and the internet but most students do not have access to these services. Moving forward bringing the cost down and increasing the services will make the versatility of the cell phone a total learning experience. It is apparent that going back to school will never be the same.