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walk in the woods

Smartphones in Scouting: A curse or a cure?

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Currently our troop has an unofficial attitude of "no see, no foul". I'm starting to lean to embracing and teaching proper/use etiquette. Much like a knife, it's much safer if used properly. I'd much rather a scout learn how to handle a call/txt during a meeting sooner rather than later.

 

If a scout is using it as a reference point, that is good to see. Perhaps a friendly competition to encourage knowledge retention would make better use of these loved and hated smartphones.

 

Give the patrols some free night time during an astronomy camp out, then a constellation/planet pointing contest (now without phones) and score it similar to boggle. <==spitballin' here

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Currently our troop has an unofficial attitude of "no see, no foul". I'm starting to lean to embracing and teaching proper/use etiquette. Much like a knife, it's much safer if used properly. I'd much rather a scout learn how to handle a call/txt during a meeting sooner rather than later.

 

If a scout is using it as a reference point, that is good to see. Perhaps a friendly competition to encourage knowledge retention would make better use of these loved and hated smartphones.

 

Give the patrols some free night time during an astronomy camp out, then a constellation/planet pointing contest (now without phones) and score it similar to boggle. <==spitballin' here

 

Something like that addresses my main concern with apps: They don't foster learning, they simply fuel "hm" moments. The second the phone goes back into a pocket, the user is ignorant again, and as long as the phone is there, the person has no incentive to become knowledgeable. For me, that's just as much an issue for adults as youth--we can't teach things we don't know, and pulling out a smartphone and pointing it at the sky isn't teaching astronomy, it's teaching how to use an app and kids already know how to do that--these things are literally designed for any moron to be able to use.

Is YouTube, etc useful as a reference? Yes. In the field? No. For the life of me, I never could figure out how to do the floor lashing. I looked it up on YouTube and immediately felt like an idiot, but frankly the drawing in the book is no good. When did I do that? At my house before I needed to know how, not out in the hinterland. The field is the place for knowledge.

Snapping a photo of a leaf and having a phone spit the ID back at you is not learning, identifying the distinguishing features of a leaf and then using them to identify the plant is learning.

 

Perdidochas hypothesizes that this question probably hinges on personal use, I tend to agree. Because the people who use the phones prefer the quick, hollow method of looking things up over and over again for 5 seconds each time rather than the labor-intensive approach of gaining knowledge, and if they can't use their phone, they can't teach what they don't know.

 

As far as allowing phones so you can teach them how to handle incoming calls and messages in a meeting, the answer is to turn off the sound and ignore them, so there's no reason to allow them.

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Are there apps that take a picture and identify? My birding app surely doesn't. It's just like the book, except I can record the GPS coordinates of my sightings.

 

I use my knot app all the time. From it, I've learned (not just for one time) the alpine butterfly, 4 different variations of the bowline (beyond the one we know and love as scouters), the sheepshank, and I'm in the process of theaching myself the prussik. Could I have done that with a book, sure, but with the phone and a piece of cord, I can practice and learn anywhere.

 

I love the assumptions made about phone users and their lack of knowledge and total reliance on the phone. I think the ancient Greeks said the same thing about writing things down.

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Thank you for the insight, perdidocas. I would have been surprised to hear that an app could identify a bird from a photo taken in the field, especially to ID one lbb from another.

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I use my knot app all the time. From it' date=' I've learned (not just for one time) the alpine butterfly, 4 different variations of the bowline (beyond the one we know and love as scouters), the sheepshank, and I'm in the process of theaching myself the prussik. Could I have done that with a book, sure, but with the phone and a piece of cord, I can practice and learn anywhere.[/quote']

 

I've been looking for a good knot app. Which one do you use?

 

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How many smartphone opponents out there use one and like it? My guess is that those of us who use smartphones are in favor of them' date=' while those who don't are against them. What I like it is that I can have numerous references at my fingertips. I guess I'm too lazy to carry around a dozen books.[/quote']

 

I use a smartphone all the time, in the real world. However, when I go camping I don't One of the reasons is my desire to be unplugged from the real world. Having that electronic tether diminishes my enjoyment of the outdoors. Secondly, I choose places where there is no service anyway. The smartphone is extra useless weight. Sure apps are fun, and great learning tools but the real adventure begins when you head out and use the things you learned. So I don't carry around any books either on these adventures.

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Something like that addresses my main concern with apps: They don't foster learning, they simply fuel "hm" moments. The second the phone goes back into a pocket, the user is ignorant again, and as long as the phone is there, the person has no incentive to become knowledgeable. For me, that's just as much an issue for adults as youth--we can't teach things we don't know, and pulling out a smartphone and pointing it at the sky isn't teaching astronomy, it's teaching how to use an app and kids already know how to do that--these things are literally designed for any moron to be able to use.

Is YouTube, etc useful as a reference? Yes. In the field? No. For the life of me, I never could figure out how to do the floor lashing. I looked it up on YouTube and immediately felt like an idiot, but frankly the drawing in the book is no good. When did I do that? At my house before I needed to know how, not out in the hinterland. The field is the place for knowledge.

Snapping a photo of a leaf and having a phone spit the ID back at you is not learning, identifying the distinguishing features of a leaf and then using them to identify the plant is learning.

 

Perdidochas hypothesizes that this question probably hinges on personal use, I tend to agree. Because the people who use the phones prefer the quick, hollow method of looking things up over and over again for 5 seconds each time rather than the labor-intensive approach of gaining knowledge, and if they can't use their phone, they can't teach what they don't know.

 

As far as allowing phones so you can teach them how to handle incoming calls and messages in a meeting, the answer is to turn off the sound and ignore them, so there's no reason to allow them.

 

Reading is a form of learning. There is no difference between reading something\ in a book and looking it up on the phone.

 

Example: I want to do a random knot. The diagram in the BSA handbook is poor. I find a video (which fosters a different type of learning - visual representation). I watch it, and tie the knot.

 

How is that going to keep me from remembering again?

 

In my career, I met with the team that purchases technology for our special forces. They bought smart phone devices for them, and wrote special software that would help adjust for windage and elevation in long distance shooting. Leveraging this cheat made good snipers great, and they retained the skill AFTER the device was taken away.

 

Digital devices are fantastic learning tools. I could have the boys all pluck leaves and take them back home to analyze, or have the one artist draw them, or I can ID with a smartphone - plus pick up some additional information on the way.

 

Still plenty of risks, but your statement that the phone is only a temporary source of knowledge and leads right back to ignorance is incorrect.

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Still plenty of risks' date=' but your statement that the phone is only a temporary source of knowledge and leads right back to ignorance is incorrect.[/quote']

 

You (and perdi) are describing a different use from what I described to argue that what I've said isn't true. I myself said I've used digital resources in the way you're describing: As a study tool at home to master a skill.

What you and perdi are doing, however, is not the way in which the vast majority of young people and older gadget people use their smart phones/tablets: as a replacement for knowledge.

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I think I can appreciate what Scouter99 is trying to communicate. I see this frequently in students. There seems to be a tendency to believe that because one has read an explanation and it seems to be clear and understandable...that we actually do understand it. This is, to me, the difference between simple knowledge of facts ... and 'understanding' which, in my view, involves 'knowledge' of how all the 'facts' form a reasonable and logical system of interactions which can produce new 'emergent' outcomes and behaviors as a result of that interaction, outcomes that may not be obvious merely by examining the 'parts' of the 'whole'.

 

I can ask trivial questions and quite a number of students can quickly answer using the internet. But understanding the relevance of those answers to each other or to other aspects of life evidently cannot be found in an app. That takes more than the skill of how to do a search. It requires that content to be 'remembered' in sufficient detail that ideas and facts can be assembled within students' minds in a way that has broader meaning and understanding. This process might be sped up with internet access but the 'heavy lifting' is still something that has to be done by each person. And the risk I see is that someone with a 'smart' phone might be tempted to think that that ability to search IS a substitute for understanding. It isn't.

 

Knot tying is a reasonable example. Yes, knowing how to tie a knot is a trivial matter. There are many different types and an app might be a great way to remind oneself how to do them. However, without an 'understanding' of the variety of functions associated with each knot, an 'understanding' or strategy of their choice and use is absent in an app. That takes practice and study and experience. And time.

 

Am I on the right track with this Scouter99?

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Exactly, packsaddle.

What I can look up in 5 seconds is not the same as what I know. Being able to look anything up because I've got the internet in my pocket isn't the same as being well-versed in a variety of subjects.

 

Those tools can be used in the same way as a book, but that is not the way the vast majority of people use them, and that's not an argument for bringing all the games, texting, helicopter parenting, porno, and distraction that comes along with the smartphone.

They're just not necessary in a Scouting context, they're a distraction, and in fact they are a detriment to our goal of producing young men who can do things for themselves.

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So I don't carry around any books either on these adventures.

 

You don't carry your Scout Handbook or Field Manual with you? Horrors!

 

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You don't carry your Scout Handbook or Field Manual with you? Horrors!
Not on every trip. Take gear that is needed. Sime trips are pure adventure and the learning comes from the experience and testing skills and knowledge without having the resource at ones finger tips as a bailout. This type of learning promotes creative problem solving and adaptation. Some trips are learning with resources at ones finger tips, the goal is different. The right toil for the job.
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You don't carry your Scout Handbook or Field Manual with you? Horrors!
Not on every trip. Take gear that is needed. Sime trips are pure adventure and the learning comes from the experience and testing skills and knowledge without having the resource at ones finger tips as a bailout. This type of learning promotes creative problem solving and adaptation. Some trips are learning with resources at ones finger tips, the goal is different. The right tool for the job.
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So what do the boys say?

 

I want responsible utilization. Not a blanket exclusion.

 

Generally on camping trips ya only hear or see them after hours...

 

We have a zero tolerance policy on inappropriate material.......

 

 

They are tools nothing more nothing less.

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Electronics on campouts are like an incurable, chronic disease which we must endure and manage as best we can.

 

The pocket knife analogy is lame. Sure both are useful tools in their place, but I've not seed a Scout spend a weekend whittling to the exclusion of any other activity or interaction.

 

I'd be curious where Mr. Butler would draw the line. My guess he would be agreeable with just about anything if he thought it would bring in more money and members.

 

 

Oh come on....you have had that boy that spent the weekend making shavings out of everything he can get his hands on.

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