The Des Moines Register reported today that the St. Ansgar (IA) Schools have given up on their proposal to purchase a device that would jam mobile phone signals after confirming that such equipment only can be used by federal agencies. The district had looked into the possibility of buying a jammer because it was struggling with inappropriate student mobile phone usage. One of the school board members said:

I don't think they have a place in the educational environment. The educational environment is supposed to be about students learning and teachers teaching and teachers can't teach over a cell phone. If a student is busy on the cell phone they aren't learning. It's a distraction … and we need to minimize the distraction.

The interim superintendent also noted that he was concerned about students using mobile phones for cheating.

I e-mailed the interim superintendent a couple of days ago and asked him to consider a different, less hard-line approach, noting schools’ responsibility to prepare students for a digital, global era and that other districts have had success with more-accommodating strategies. Maybe I’ll hear from him sometime.

One of the comments to the Register’s article cracked me up:

Oh, For Crying-out-load. Just hang one of those shoe orginizers next to the door and require each student to check in thier phones on entering the classroom, then they can retrieve them after class. Just drop your phone in your slot and pick it up on the way out. Hey look, I solved the problem for less than $5.00

I don’t know if this is a fantastic idea or not, but it sure made me laugh. Sometimes easy solutions to our problems are staring us in the face if only we have the courage to think creatively. As we head into the new school year, who thinks their local school has an effective solution for inappropriate student use of mobile phones?