Here’s a great quote about the distraction factor (Source: “Five Myths of Mobile Learning by Abhijit Kadle in the Upside Learning blog):
However, if learners are distracted I’d rather blame the learning activities and content and not the technology or device itself.
Another interesting discussion on the ISTE Ning about students using their own devices in school.
There is good, healthy debate about this topic as I’ve been watching education reform and educational technology discussions over the last year. The “no way” arguments focus on the fact that not every has the tool, that there is no way to control distraction. When I bring up the topic with some schools (teachers, administrators, parents and yes, even students) who do not encourage/allow device use, they all bring up these arguments. There is certain validity to these concerns.
However, whenever I’ve talked to a school who has moved in the direction of allowing/encouraging mobile devices or laptops, whether it is school provided or BYOD, I hear only good things and positive results. Sure, there are issues, but no issues that can’t be resolved, or that are new.
I don’t think I’ve run across reports of schools/districts who have discontinued allowing mobile devices or laptops because they found them too distracting or not serving the educational goals. One district I know of discontinued a laptop program for budget reasons, and the teachers and students were all very upset.
This school year will be telling, as it seems many many schools are moving to iPads. I will be watching closely for reports of schools/districts who back out of the 1:1 set-up and their reasons why.