Technology is changing the way we live at a faster rate every day.
Cell phone advances have produced smarter phones that are capable of running more complex apps than ever before.
More than 1 billion cell phones are expected to be purchased in the coming year, which is double the number of home computers being used.
But how can cell phones be used in classrooms to promote learning?
Are they a problem or a benefit to learning?
The convenience of cell phones just might be the final answer as to why they may soon be adopted in classrooms across the globe. Cell phones can help strengthen the essential connections between students with teachers, make students more self-directed, and they can make education more applicable to real life.
There is new trend call BYOD (bring your own device) that is becoming popular in many schools. The policy allows students to bring in whatever electronic device they own, (notebook, IPad, smartphone, etc.) so they can access a school’s online materials. One benefit of implementing BYOD policies, is that schools would save money by not having to provide computers for students.
Research from a recent study in Canada, showed that students who participated in BYOD programs were more invested in their own learning and were more engaged because they were already familiar with the technology.
Cell phone use has become a lifestyle for millions of families who instantly communicate with each other and access the web. As adults, we use cell phones in every aspect of our lives, at home and at work. It only makes sense to put new technology in the hands of our children and let them use it for learning.
The cell phone debate in recent years has mostly centered around the reasons why phones should not be allowed in the classroom. Much has been said about how cell phones can disrupt learning.
Teachers see them as personal items that should be confiscated and they worry that students will use their phones for texting their friends, playing video games, or posting comments and pictures to social media. Some students have been known to use their phones to cheat on exams. Most schools are creating new rules attempting to control cell phone usage.
But, in spite of the potential for negative behaviors, cell phones could become an essential part of every classroom in the future.
The fact is, that most students already have the devices in their pockets, so integrating them into the classroom is the next logical step.The new smart phones can be used as tools for learning just like laptops, notebooks, Chromebooks and IPads, that are already being allowed.
There are many common sense reasons to use cell phones in the classroom:
- so students can do Google searches on any subject
- for instant messaging between teachers, students and parents
- for using the photo and video capabilities on school projects or to document school events
- for sharing internet information in group projects
- for making emergency contacts during natural disasters or medical emergencies
- to access maps and locating driving routes for school field trips
Teachers have been using computers in the classroom for years. Cell phones are simply another tool for students to access the internet, and quickly gain information that will help them advance in any subject. Cell phone use supports the flipped classroom and blended learning concepts being incorporated in most schools in the US and other countries.
Here are some of the ways that phones can connect teachers and students:
YouTube is being utilized by many teachers who post videos of their lectures so students can view them at home, reserving class time for review.
Polleverywhere is an audience response app using cell phones, Twitter and the web. It measures real time results on mobile friendly web pages. Teachers use it to gain instant feedback and measure student comprehension.
Wiffiti is a platform for teachers to get instant responses on a web screen by receiving text messages from students that can be seen by the whole class.
Schooltown is a cloud hosted or onsite platform for creating a school community. Shared digital resources include a variety of schedules, assignments, discussions, events, announcements, etc.
Socrative is a student response system that teachers use when engaging students in educational exercises and games. It runs on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Dropbox is used by teachers as a digital home for photos, docs, videos and files which are synced on all their electronic devices and are viewable on student phones and other devices.
Evernote is software that teachers can use for organizing their ideas, notes and final documents which can be shared with student electronic devices.
By the year 2020, students in the US will be expected to share, learn and network with others at home and in the classroom using multiple devices. President Obama has recently obtained $750 million from technology companies to bring schools into the 21st century.
Yet, even with improved technology, the learning atmosphere in schools depends on the teachers, who are the classroom authorities. The best teachers are those who know how to establish student expectations and motivate their students to learn.
My experience as a parent has shown me the importance of teaching my children how to behave at home and in public. I use discipline and consequences to make sure my children do what I expect of them. I am supportive of a teacher who wants to use technology in creative ways in the classroom to help my children learn. I am also in favor of a teacher who will discipline my child when he uses a cell phone to misbehave.
If cell phones are used to improve the effectiveness of classroom teaching, I am in favor of using them, and I have no problem with the BYOD concept.
I believe the benefits of using cell phones for education far outweigh the potential for negative behaviors.
We live in a technology advanced world, and I want my children to be capable of learning technology at an early age and to use it effectively in the future. Cell phones in the classroom can help students gain access to information and keep them motivated to continue using technology for lifelong learning.