Using Smartphones in the Classroom

Today’s students are hard wired with innate abilities to network using technology. By far, their current ‘technology of choice’ is the mobile phone.

According to Cell Phone City Advocacy, “on average, an American receives his/her first cell phone at the age of 12.1 years old, just as he/she is starting middle school. In addition, 73% of teens, roughly 14.3 million, own a smartphone.” A recent study by Young Canadians in a Wired World, reveals that not only do 25% of Grade 4 students have their own mobile phone, but also, more than one-third of teens and pre-teens even sleep with their cellphone.

So how can classrooms take advantage of this ubiquitous affinity with technology and effectively incorporate smartphones into the learning environment? Some Teachers who do so point out that the smartphone ‘s array of functions and apps provides students in the classroom with a handy tool to do research, use as an e-reader alternative, share blogs, keep mobile diaries, and even allows them to track students’ behavior.

One such teacher, John Hardison, a blended learning specialist at East Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia, groups the ways he and his students use the smartphone into what he calls “The Five C’s.”

  1. Collaborate, communicate, create and coordinate/curate. He uses smartphones to:
  2. Collaborate by having students peer-assess their classmates’ essays through a Google Form embedded on his teacher page, and allows them to view real-time constructive criticism.
  3. Communicate by having students use FaceTime to add students, both in the classroom as well as others, even those from other schools, during class discussions or learning activities.
  4. Create by writing with apps such as My Writing Spot and Evernote and using dictionary and thesaurus apps.
  5. Coordinate/Curate by having students access their peers’ blogs by sharing a Symbaloo webmix on his teacher page. He even provides a sample.

Looks like this teacher is on to something. So is the use of the smartphone in the classroom warranted? Is doing so a help or hindrance to learning?

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