I shared this on my Facebook page a few days ago, and laughed. Then, I began to think about how desperate and anxious my afternoon students are when their phone batteries are low.
Have you ever walked out the door without your cell phone? If you’re like me, you’ll turn around and go get it if it won’t make you late. And when I am without it, I often feel a little out of sorts. Magnify those feelings to hormonal teenage proportions, and you see why I think a charged phone is somewhere in the lower two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for the modern student.
In traditional classrooms, it’s simple to say, “No phones allowed,” and consider the problem solved. Even when it’s in a purse or a pocket, 6% battery still nags at kids. In a connected classroom like mine, I acknowledge their situation and do what I can to resolve it.
I got a great deal on a 24 port powered USB hub last year. [Note: This hub only charges iPhones if the hub is connected to a computer] After putting it in my classroom I noticed a lot of battery anxiety disappear, and students were better able to focus on their work.
I’ve seen some teachers who require their students to turn in their phones at the beginning of class, either on a desk or in wall-mounted shoe holders. I found that the charging spot worked as a voluntary phone collection spot that the students were happy to use.
If you want to go a step further, you can provide USB cables, too. We use these in my Mobile Application Development class when we create Android apps. You can get 50 of these round magnets at Wal-Mart for less than $5.00. They work great for tangle-free cable storage using the side of a filing cabinet or other metal surface.
Each educator will develop his own ways of managing student technology, and I’d love to hear how you do it in the comments section below. I’ll be sharing my “Bring Your Own Device” classroom policies in a more detailed post next week.