Classroom Technology: Have You Considered Cell Phones?


Do you allow you students to carry cell phones to class? Do you incorporate the use of cell phones into your daily teaching practice? If you answered no you may be missing out on some relatively cheap and easy ways to engage students through the use of technology and the internet. As technology develops and expands in public schools across America, educators are scrambling to make use of it by trying to gain access to new hardware and software that can help enhance student achievement.Today most schools are equipped with at least one computer lab that teachers can “check out” and take their class to when they need a computer or internet access for learning purposes. However, due to the number of students in relation to the number of computers in these labs, access and availability is often a problem. And while many schools are starting to implement 1:1 laptop programs, these initiatives are often costly and require a lot of support.  So why not tap into an easier and simpler way to access information in class?

Did you know that about 75% of secondary students in the U.S. and 99% of all college students are coming to class each day with their own personal computers with internet access? Yup, hiding in their pockets and backpacks students are carrying around handheld computers. Ok so maybe I have stretched the definition of “personal computer” a bit there. I am talking about cell phones, and they are now more powerful than ever. Most of today’s mobile phones are not anything like what we once kept in our glove box in case of an emergency a decade ago. Today’s phones allow users to email, browse the internet, take and edit photos, organize schedules, and connect socially with peers and instructors. Mobile phones have become a regular part of the lives of teachers, administrators, and most of all, our students. So why not take advantage of the fact that our students have them and put them to use for the good of education?

  For example I know school districts that spend thousands of dollars on “clicker” student responders. These schools want a quick and fast way to get information on student understanding. But did you know that with websites like you can create quizzes and assessments in which your students can text in their answers and you can get the same feedback that you could from a student responder system for free? And imagine if your students were carrying cell phones that had instant access to the internet while working on research assignments that usually require the use of that one computer lab.

Now I have heard all of the negative remarks about how cell phones would make it easier for students to cheat in class. I simply don’t buy that and think it is a copout for teachers who are not ready to embrace the technology. Imagine if someone from the chalk and slate days said “no” to letting students use pens in class because they could use it to write the test answers on their hands or shoes. Of course some students will try and cheat. Students that want to cheat will try and cheat no matter what resources you put in front of them. Teaching has never been about passing out an assignment then sticking your head in the sand. In my opinion, the positives of allowing the use of cell phones in class far outweigh the bad. I have included a link to some more ways teachers are using cell phones with students in class.

But we want to hear from you. How are you using cell phones with your students?

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