No doubt Mr. Bradford is correct, but it's not clear HOW he claims it's affecting communication skills. Positively or negatively--what is his point? Some quick pros and cons from my observation (as a teacher): Pro--students can instantly look up a synonym,
definition, or correct spelling. Con--students typically "text" (a modern verb) on cell phones using symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms instead of "real" language. Pro--when cell phone is used to engage with the English teacher via texting, it can be (1)
instructive to the student to see what the real language looks like, and (2) instructive to the teacher as far as revealing student misconceptions and persistent mistakes that may not come to light in a more formalized or structured classroom setting. Con--when
cell phones are used in the classroom to engage with others outside of the learning milieu, it is attention-disruptive (to the same extent it is disruptive in a concert hall or a meeting). This list could be longer, but as it stands it clearly indicates that
cell phone use has potential benefits. In my view, the pros are compelling enough that cell phone use could be encouraged. (Not to mention that cell phones are a technology that has become a way of life, and as with any other accommodation, classrooms and
teachers are obliged to incorporate them.) Some ideas for undertaking their use: - Emphasize the "good uses." Allow students to take advantage of learning tools they can access by phone. - Recognize the cell phone's possibilities as a communication support.
(Can't bring in a blood pressure machine for your "tools of the trade" speech? Call up a picture of one on your cell phone and show it to the class that way. Or play a You-Tube video to demonstrate an instructional concept.) - Regulate class communications
via cell phone--all text communications must be properly spelled, punctuated, and capitalized, for example. - Take advantage of the fact that your texted responses to your students (as in, correcting "Thank you for let us know" with "Thank you for LETTING
us know") constitute a record of the "right way" that they will be inclined to remember and that they can refer to again and again on their phone display. - Keep in mind that by sharing technologies with students, the teacher is better engaged with the students,
more often in contact with them, and more likely to retain their attention and respect. That's my take on the issue, from the little bit of work I've done in my classroom towards incorporating technology.