As Ontario schools prepare for a blanket ban on cellphones during class time, the Alberta government says they’re not going to follow suit.
Earlier that day, Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson confirmed the province is planning to ban cellphones in elementary and secondary school classrooms in September.
The ban will not apply when teachers want to use cellphones for their lesson, for medical reasons, and students with special needs.
“Ontario’s students need to be able to focus on their learning – not their cellphones,” Thompson said in a statement. “By banning cellphone use that distracts from learning, we are helping students to focus on acquiring the foundational skills they need like reading, writing and math.”
Although some Ontario schools have similar policies in place already, the ban would require all public schools to introduce the ban in the upcoming school year. However, it will still be up to individual school boards and schools to determine how to enforce the ban.
In Alberta, Philip McRae has been conducting research on the impact of technology on students for years. The researcher for the Alberta Teachers Association said he doesn’t think a ban will work.
Instead, McRae said schools should be helping students find a healthy balance for their cellphone use.
“Technology isn’t good or bad, it’s both,” he explained. “It’s making sure that you create a culture where we know where the boundaries are.”
McRae agrees with Alberta’s education minister that schools and teachers should be given the opportunity to figure out a balance on their own.
“Teachers see the value of technology as an enhancement to learning and they are using it pretty powerfully, but we also see teachers and principals making judgments where to pull back,” he said.
The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association appears to have a similar statement. They urged the provincial government to continue allowing boards to make their own decisions before the ban was announced.
“Schools and teachers have well-established limits and boundaries with regard to cellphone use in schools and the classroom, similar to other classroom expectations, which are designed to create positive learning environments,” the association said.