Teacher baiting with mobile phones

Second argument re: Mobile phones as a learning tool?: Negative

In my last post, I mentioned several issues regarding the use of mobile phones in the classroom. While I do realise some of these issues can eventually be resolved technologically, some are more complex in nature and may need more looking into before we succumb to the idea of allowing our students to access their mobile phones while in class.

One  complex issue I have in mind is the disruptive nature of the mobile device in a formal learning environment. As a teacher (who can be clumsy and awkward at times), I’m still uncomfortable with the thought that my students, because of their mobile phones, have the capacity to take photos and videos and upload them almost simultaneously onto a social networking website for the world to see. Some might find this view too paranoid, but based on the stories and articles I’ve found online, this is one issue that teachers find the most disturbing.  In one particular incident at All Saints’ Roman Catholic School, UK  in 2009, Mr. Peter Harvey, a 50 year old science teacher, was arrested for attempted murder by the Nottinghamshire police because he beat a 14-year-old student with a dumbell after a confrontation in the classroom. But during the course of the trial, it emerged that, on that fateful day, a number of students were trying to provoke him to capture his reaction using their mobile phones. Having just returned from stress leave and still in a vulnerable state, the students chose the worst time to bait Mr. Harvey to partcipate in their little video production.  The unfortunate incident resulted to a student in hospital and a usually mild-mannered teacher in jail. In the end, Mr Harvey was acquitted of the attempted murder  charge but only after being incarcerated for ten months.

Of course one can say that the above incident can be considered an extreme case, but videos such as the ones posted here , can make any teacher think twice about allowing kids carry these devices in their classrooms.

The question that now comes to my mind is, because mobile phones are now becoming more popular as a tool in formal learning,  how do we make sure that students don’t use them in anti-social and disruptive activities? Are students today ready to be trusted with such a powerful and smart device in the classroom?


Richardson, H. (2010). Case Prompts Mobile Crackdown Call, BBC News, April 29, 2010 from url:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10092626 . Retrieved on October 13, 2011.

Cell phone cameras in k-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student journalism?, Dangerously Irrelevant, March 6, 2008 from url: http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2008/03/cell-phone-came.html. Retrieved on October 13, 2011.

5 Responses to “Teacher baiting with mobile phones”

  1.   ramona Says:

    I teach Art and the fact that most students have a camera handy on their phone is quite useful. Obviously I need to monitor how and when they are used but they definitely provide some great opportunities for integration into my lessons.

  2.   Laurens Says:

    If the texting & calling & recording are such an isues then how about ‘mobile devices as a learning tool’ instead.
    Chu, H-C., Hwang, G-J & Tsai, C-C. (2010). A knowledge engineering approach to developing mindtools for context-aware ubiquitous learning. Computers & Education.

  3.   Laurens Says:


  4.   Edwina Says:

    I think as Laurens pointed out, one of the key things in avoiding this knid of issue for teachers is the allow the mobile phone to be used in the classroom for learning. If the phone is seen as a learning tool in the classroom, then it will be much more visible, it will not be a novelty in the classroom and students will, with time, forget that they ever had classes without phones as learning tools. The potential for using phones for good in the classroom is vast. There is of course potential for using phones for evil in the classroom, but then again, students have been known to use the classroom furniture inappropriately to harm their teachers, by throwing it, and even the humble pen and paper with many teachers leaving their classrooms with spitballs in their hair. I think out challenge is to embrace and manage new technology, no turn our back on it because it’s not going to go away.

  5.   Luke Says:

    The onus is on teachers keeping their cool when dealing with petulant behavior. The mass against the individual is quite difficult to deal with. I can understand why some teachers become aggravated by student behavior but I can understand that some situations result in teachers who are power freaks and can be quite bullish in behavior. If CCTV was involved this might diminish a lot of teacher bashing and shed light on student manipulations / behavior. When researching bad student behavior I came across this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHzTUYAOkPM thought it was quite enlightening.
    The problem is teachers can film students without parent permission but students can film teachers. It’s not fair and discriminatory. If mobile phones were used for positive outcomes and learning tools the benefits would be great. I am not sure if we can trust students with mobile phones in present situations.


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