Back in the day when mobile phones weren’t so readily available, teachers did not have to worry about kids in class being distracted by mobile phones. Then again there were other distractions, such as Gameboy, Game Gear, trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, and so on.
However nowadays with kids pretty much having a phone of their own, these distractions can be quite annoying and disruptive, which is why over in South Korea, officials are trialing an app called iSmartKeeper which basically manages a phone’s capabilities and limits what it can and cannot do.
For example teachers could use it to disable all smartphones during class, or they could set it to allow only emergency phone calls, or they could set it to run specific educational apps and so on. There is even geofencing which allows the lockdown to kick in when the student walks into school and disables it when they leave.
Of course this requires that all students cooperate and install the app on their devices. It sounds like a pretty good idea in all honesty but it seems that out of the 11 schools that it has been trialed in, 3 schools have decided to discontinue the program.
For starters students were circumventing the system by rooting their phones, while there were complaints that geofencing didn’t work which resulted in the phone being locked out for hours even after school. There is also the issue the app is only available for Android devices, so students using iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry will not be subject to this.
Naturally the program has its critics, with one professor calling it a violation of students’ human rights, while others have raised concerns over the app’s draconian nature. However at the end of the day, students will be students and if there is a rule put into place, you can be sure that some will find a way to break it.