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Who's That Texting Your Kids in Class 66% of the Time? Parents

The days of getting caught talking in class are over—and so aren't the days of even getting caught.

According to a new survey by app developer textPlus, which surveyed more than 600 of its users aged 13 to 17, texting is more rampant than ever in the classroom. A whopping 42.5% of teens admit to texting during class, and more than half of those say they text sometimes or constantly. What's more, nearly 80% of students say they've never gotten in trouble for texting during class, suggesting the eyes-down, cell-under-the-desk method is slipping past even your most yard-stick taunting school teachers.

With more than 42% of teens admitting to bringing a cell phone or iPod Touch to class, isn't it time schools start cracking down? And if technology is to become more a part of education, how will teachers ever track students who are already able to pull off using these devices when they're not supposed to? As more and more gadgets enter the classroom, won't it just make it easier to find distractions?

For example, Houghton Mifflin, the world's largest provider of educational materials for K-12, today launched its first full-curriculum algebra app for the iPad. Called the HMH Fuse, the publisher's aim is to find a new interactive platform to move "beyond the one-way experience of a print or digital textbook," according to a company statement.

And to gear up for the app, Houghton Mifflin is commencing a year-long pilot in several California school districts to see whether iPad-delivered content stacks up against regular, old boring textbooks. In total, 400 iPads will be piloted, and the app will provide "real-time student-specific performance feedback," and comprehensive student tracking tools.

Can you imagine how kids will game the classroom once they have the full-might of the iPad's app store? How will teachers ever keep up when they can't even keep up with cell phones?

Part of the problem is that kids don't feel guilty for their actions. Roughly 74% of students don't believe it's wrong to text during school time, a mindset which permeates not just learning but homework too: About one in three teens admit to using text lingo (e.g. "u" or "4" or "imho") in written school assignments. How do we change this? Perhaps we start with the parents: A shocking 66% of teens report that they've received texts from their parents, even when their parents know they're in class.

Monkey see, monkey do.

For teachers who spend hours and hours a day updating Excel spreadsheets with student data, Houghton Mifflin's app may be a blessing—for students, who yearn for even more distractions, this might be a godsend.

Of course, we're excited for the positive impact technology can have on education, but if textPlus's survey provides any indication of how well iPods and cell phones are monitored (T-Mobile's promotion announced this morning won't help), schools and teachers have a long way to go before getting their students to use iPads correctly in the classroom.

[Photo via Flickr/Andy Nguyen]

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  • sylvia martinez

    Wow, how much misinformation and character assassination can you fit into one short story!

    Dan pointed out the biggest error - 66% of students receiving a text from a parent is NOT 66% of the time. That's just an inexcusable error, but one that reveals the biases that fill out this story.

    The other errors are how you portray students and teachers as mindless drones playing some kind of game. What are "yardstick taunting" teachers anyway? Perhaps you meant "yardstick toting", which is insulting, or you really did mean "taunting" which makes no sense.

    So if 42% of students bring something to school, it should be banned? Perhaps we should ban shoes and socks, I bet those numbers are even higher! What kind of journalism allows this kind of sloppy connections?

    Then, you spin 180 degrees and say, "... if technology is to become more a part of education..." and finish up that paragraph talking about how distracting the devices are. You can't even keep a consistent point of view across one paragraph? Do cell phones help or hurt productivity in the office? Do you think that businesses should ban them because they might be a distraction? Perhaps you've never actually seen a teacher who is interesting enough to hold students' attention, or perhaps you'd rather just blather on with your teen movie viewpoint of what teaching and learning is.

    You are slighting teachers by assuming they are just there to monitor behavior, and students are just there to sneak anything they can past teachers. Where teachers can't "keep up" with students who are trying to "game" the classroom.

    Perhaps it has never occurred to you that some classrooms aren't battlefields. Perhaps it has never occurred to you that some teachers are using technology tools break down classroom walls, or that students might be using their cell phones to do their work and have a life. Just like adults.

    "Part of the problem is that kids don't feel guilty"... Seriously. Do you feel guilty for using your phone? No? Is that because you are an adult and can do whatever you want, and kids are slaves whose behavior must be monitored constantly even if they are doing no harm? Maybe kids don't feel guilty because phones are now a normal part of life and our society expects everyone to have them.

    Parents come in for your scorn as well, "Monkey see, monkey do" - so if I text my daughter to meet me after school at a different time than usual, I'm now "guilty" too? If she texts back "OK" during lunch she's obviously trying to pull something over on someone!

    Even worse, you've fallen for a completely bogus company line about "new" interactivity. Where is the interactivity? They "deliver" content and monitor the students. Why not call this what it is, surveillance.

    Is school supposed to be a place that cuts children off from the real world? From any parental access? Where children sit motionless, yearning for distraction while "yardstick taunting" teachers who spend "hours a day" updating some Excel spreadsheet try to catch them nodding off so they can administer punishment? Where devices deliver "content" to them and monitor their every keystroke? What a strange, sad viewpoint you have.

    Then, get this, you toss off "Of course, we're excited for the positive impact technology can have on education..." Uh, no, that's a load of crap! You don't understand ANYTHING about technology in education and you (who is we, anyway) certainly aren't excited about it, you simply see it as a new weapon in this horrible battlefield-like vision you have of school.

  • dwarn

    "66% of the time?" No, not even close. 66% of students have received at least 1 text from their parents. That's completely different from the headline. Terrible reporting.

  • David Molden

    You have to create the learning environment - not just turn up to a classroom to teach. Its paradoxical that education has to play catch-up to technology. But if you really want to help people concentrate on the matters in hand take a tip from the head of NatGaz in Beirut, Khaldoun Dib who has a triple B box (BlackBerry Box) - when managers turn up for meetings all theor BB's go into the BBB where they dance and play until the meeting is over! Nice one Khaldoun :)

    David Molden