March 13, 2019 4:42 pm
Updated: March 19, 2019 4:45 pm

New Brunswick has mixed response to adopting cellphone ban in classrooms

WATCH: Students in Ontario are preparing for cellphone-free classrooms this fall, after the province opted to ban them in schools. Now, students in New Brunswick are wondering if this province will do the same. But as Shelley Steeves reports, some teachers have actually been embracing the technology.

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While a new policy in Ontario will see cellphones banned in classrooms this fall, one New Brunswick teacher says mobile devices are a welcome addition in her calculus class.

“We use them as graphing calculators every day and we also use them as an online portfolio through an app called FreshGrade,” said Kate Godbout, who teaches at Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough, N.B.

The New Brunswick Department of Education is a little more ambivalent on the issue.

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READ MORE: Ontario to ban cellphones from classrooms next year

Spokesperson Jon McNeil wrote in an email on Wednesday that the department is monitoring the situation in Ontario, but it’s up to teachers and principals to decide the policy at their schools.

“Teachers are responsible for their classroom and must follow relevant school, district and provincial policy,” McNeil wrote.

Godbout says that she understands the reasoning behind Ontario’s move and agrees that cellphones can be a distraction but says that if properly used and policed, cellphones can be a valuable teaching tool.

She says that having a classroom open to cellphones helps teach students proper technology etiquette.

“It is giving them insight into the real world, where you are using your cellphone in your work life. It is giving them a resource that they otherwise would not have and it is helping them learn management,” said Godbout.

New Brunswick’s Liberal education critic Chuck Chiasson says an outright ban is unrealistic.

“I mean, I wear a cell phone on my wrist so how in the world can you actually enforce a total ban on cellphones in schools?” Chiasson said.

“I think it is up to teachers to find an innovative way to control use in their classrooms.”

WATCH: Kingston students react to pending cellphone ban in schools

Although some students worry that a similar ban could happen in New Brunswick, there are some who are on the fence about cellphone use in the classroom.

“It can be a distraction for other students, which can be a hindrance if you are doing group work and trying to get through subject matter,” said one student.

Meanwhile, Chiasson says that instead of a ban, the Department of Education should be revising their cellphone policy, which he says hasn’t been updated since 2004.

“Cellphones were probably 15 times larger than they are now and way less sophisticated,” he said.

He adds that a change in policy may encourage more teachers like Godbout to come up with innovative ways to use the high-tech phones to their advantage.

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