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Smartphones in high schools: Dumb idea?

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In public high schools, “appropriately” managing smartphones is an ongoing topic of debate. There are not only evident trade-offs but also significant primary research gaps with respect to academic and developmental impacts, divergent pedagogical paradigms, and varied stakeholder opinions within each school community. Smartphones provide promise as educational tools as they can address aspects of school’s digital and print resource constraints while offering access to both a variety of online platforms and software pertinent to an educational context. However, the devices also pose risks to students’ holistic well-being and the overall learning environment, placing an additional burden on teachers and administrators with their management. This study examines the motivations and effects of three different smartphone policies and provides a multi-criteria analysis using a literature review, conducted interviews, and a cross-jurisdictional scan of case studies. The study concludes with a recommended policy option and the key considerations behind its implementation.
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