The Korea JoongAng Daily reports on the iSmartKeeper app which “is designed to limit the functions available to students on their smartphones on school premises.
Controlling Student Smartphone Use?
There are six app options, including:
- Freeze all student smartphone apps.
- Enact a partial restrictions on access to certain pre-designated apps.
- Freezing everything but making calls and sending texts.
- Alert the teacher if students try to remove the app.
For advocates of greater individual freedom and the average tech-savvy teenager, this may sound like an Orwellian nightmare come true. But Korea’s government, teachers and parents think it’s time to consider ways to protect school-aged kids from being overly exposed to mobile devices.
For the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to meet with groups of educators from Korea’s Air & Correspondence.
A federally-funded initiative, the 40+ year old program serves the nation’s youth and adults who couldn’t get a diploma because they were forced to work in the factories to support their families or because they couldn’t afford to pay for high school (some students pay to go to most high schools in Korea). A high school diploma is a big deal, allowing someone to take a university entrance test or get a job in government or other higher-paid career.
The name “Air & Correspondence” comes from their early days when they used radio to deliver their lessons and mail to exchange student work. Since their beginning, they have taught over 300,000 students and currently have 15,000 students enrolled this year.
The number of households in Korea with broadband access is over 97% and they have some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet–almost 200x faster than the US! The online teachers we’ve met from Korea laugh when they use our Internet because it’s so slow.
According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, 64.5 percent of Korea’s teenagers had smartphones last year, up from 21.4 percent in 2011.
So far, a total of 600 schools nationwide have expressed their intentions to use the iSmartKeeper system, said Professor Han of Gongju National University of Education.
And 30,000 students are now registered for the system.
We’re meeting with groups of Korean online learning teachers through May and June and I’ll be sure to ask them about the new iSmartKeeper app and report back what I learn.
Some Questions for mLearning Advocates
- What do you think– is this something that would be embraced in the United States?
- How does teacher control over a student’s smartphone effect mLearning?
- How would the educationally functional aspects conflict with privacy and control issues?
Let me know what you think!