Results are in for our survey on how lifting the cell phone ban has changed schools and learning in New York City! We kicked off the survey on Tuesday, March 31 and accepted responses until Monday, April 6. The survey consisted of seven questions, five of which were required and multiple choice, and two of which were optional and accepted free-form text responses. While the number of survey respondents is extremely small – particularly when compared to the 1.1 million students and several thousand teachers in the nation’s largest school district – we did get some surprising feedback:
- 90% of survey respondents said lifting the ban on cell phones has not changed how cell phones are used in schools;
- 70% reported no plans to implement Bring Your Own Technology/Device (BYOT or BYOD) programs in their school; the remaining 30% said they weren’t sure if there were plans;
- Just 10% reported an increase in classroom disruptions since lifting the ban;
- 80% of respondents reported that in their schools, cell phones are confiscated upon entering the building. The remaining respondents were equally divided between using cell phones in at least some classes, and keeping them in backpacks in silent or vibrate mode;
- 70% responded that resources or training on using and managing cell phones in schools would be helpful for both students and teachers.
As for the free-form questions, here is a sampling of responses we received for each:
What would you change about your school’s policy regarding cell phones?
- “Nothing, I believe the policy regarding students’ personal technological belongings is beneficial for the students and the teachers.”
- “Cellphones in schools are dangerous, disruptive and not necessary. They promote cyber bullying now 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They make students targets for theft. They create a huge liability for schools.”
- “We should allow student’s to carry their own phones and teach them how to use cell phones, responsibly. Educators with good student relationships and classroom management skills should be able manage the few students who might violate the ban on cell phone use in the classroom.”
Anything else you’d like to say about the decision to lift the ban on cell phones in schools?
- “I believe it was a good idea, however, I feel as if the lifting of the ‘cell phone ban’ was more of a free storage for your cell phone until the end of the day. That should have been more clear and not have a misleading title.”
- “Keep the cell phones out. Kids need to be able to write, and read. If technology is needed, most classrooms and schools have computers. It’s hard to monitor kids on computers and is an unneeded added stress on teachers.”
- “We should be able to hold our phones while in school.”
- “Schools still make their own rules so the decision to lift the ban hasn’t affected schools as much – except if we want to incorporate devices we can in the future.”
- “It was a potential disaster that has turned out well because of our confiscation policy.”
Even with a small sampling, there’s still quite a bit to go on here that warrants a deeper look. It seems clear that confiscating phones remains the dominant policy, yet even though there’s not much of a push to integrate them into classrooms, respondents still expressed a desire for training on cell phone use and management. The comment about schools turning into “free storage for your cell phone until the end of the day” is interesting for what it implies on the stresses placed on administrators since lifting the ban – where once schools could prohibit phones from entering the building at all, they now have to come up with a storing and management plan. Perhaps that’s less daunting than designing a BYOT program and training teachers and students, but in the long term it’s hard to imagine schools will continue to accept the responsibility of checking in, storing and returning hundreds of student cell phones on a daily basis.