Classroom, eLearning

Advantages of Using Cell Phones in the Classroom

Cell phones have undoubtedly become an integral part of modern society, and increasingly common among K-12 children and adolescents. According to a recent study conducted by Pearson Education, 82% of high school students use mobile devices regularly. Of course, with the increasing popularity of cell phone among students comes the sharply contested debate as to whether or not they should be allowed in classrooms. While there is a valid case to be argued by parents and educators that cell phones are disruptive to the learning environment and can lead to negative behaviors such as cheating on exams, cell phones can certainly enrich and become a useful educational tool in supplementing teaching instruction. Below is an overview of best uses for cell phones in the classroom. (Pearson Education study)

advantages cell phones classroom

gmast3r © 123RF.com

 

Ensuring correct use of cell phones in the classroom

Ensuring correct use of cell phones in the classroom starts with teachers setting expectations for students from the beginning. According to an Edutopia article, “Smartphones: From Toy to Tool,” teachers should develop, with the help of students, an agreement or contract regarding engagement and cell phone usage in class. This agreement should clearly outline consequences for misuse of cell phones in the classroom and for breaking the agreement.

In an article published by the National Education Association, “Using Smartphones in the Classroom,” teacher Ken Halla discusses how changing the dynamic of classroom instruction can help ensure that cell phone usage remains academically-focused. Halla makes the case for moving away from the traditional lecture in front of the classroom approach to teaching to having no front of the classroom at all. By roaming around the classroom and constantly engaging with students rather than only speaking to the classroom as a whole from the front of the room, Halla claims that it is much easier to monitor students and make sure they are staying on task. Halla argues, “It’s harder to do the negative behaviors when the phones are out and the teacher is walking around.”

Cell phones as a participation tool

Cell phones can be a powerful participation tool in the classroom. For instance, the website platform Poll Everywhere allows teachers to create poll questions. Students respond by texting their response to a number, and then live results can instantly be reviewed by the classroom. This way, a teacher can quickly determine the overall understanding of a topic and adjust their lesson plan accordingly.

Another way cell phones can boost participation in the classroom is by inviting students to use text messaging or Twitter to ask questions to the teacher throughout the lesson. Teachers allowing this mode of participation can encourage students who are more timid or shy to ask the questions, as well as to ensure that good questions don’t go missed or forgotten.

Cell phones as a resource in the classroom

Cell phones can serve as a tool for quick reference in the classroom. When it comes to double checking spelling, word definitions, or even to look up alternative word choices, apps like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary App and the Webster’s Thesaurus App are quick and easy-to-use resources. For students studying foreign languages, there are many useful foreign dictionary apps available for free, as well as apps such as the Conjugate Spanish Verbs app that can help students if they are unsure of the right way to conjugate a certain verb.

Additionally, being able to look up news articles online via cell phone is a good way for students to be able to consult and contribute to meaningful classroom discussion. News-O-Matic is an app that covers relevant news of the day through images, maps, videos, and games, and all articles are written by children writers.

Cell phones as an organizational tool

Lastly, cell phones can help students stay organized and on top of tasks, homework, projects, and deadlines. For example, myHomework App is a cross-platform app that students can access on any device that offers a convenient and intuitive alternative to the traditional paper planner. Students will receive notification reminders of upcoming deadlines, and they can easily input new assignments and projects as they come up.

In terms of keeping notes organized, Evernote is a convenient app that students can use to transcribe and access their notes across devices. Students can easily type up their notes when they study at home, and then access them in class on their cell phone by using the app. If a teacher uses the Evernote app, they can take pictures of their overhead or whiteboard notes and easily share them with students who are also using the app. This tool can also come in handy for students who, for whatever personal reason, must miss an extended period of class—teachers can keep them up-to-date on classroom notes!

Conclusion

Wherever you stand on the cell phone in the classroom debate, there’s no denying that each year mobile devices are becoming more and more integrated into every facet of our daily lives and that teachers will continue to integrate them, in one minor form or another, into their lesson plans and teaching styles. Hopefully this article has helped to shed light on some potential positive benefits of this rapid technological (and cultural) change, which sharply contrasts the experience many of us had when we were in school.

Do you think that cell phones can be a useful resources in the classroom? Are you a teacher with experience with integrating cell phones into your teaching style? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Previous post

Study Abroad Stress: How to Manage

Next post

Travel Ban's Impact on Higher Education

The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.

14 Comments

  1. Bill
    May 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

    If every child is treated equally in a public school, who pays the cell phone bills? The schools or the parents? Just explain how you plan to filter out nefarious and libelous conduct by these children when the phone connects to an unfiltered cellular circuit.

    • thomas
      June 3, 2019 at 6:26 am

      I pay for my own cell phone bill.

  2. Sunny
    May 17, 2018 at 8:47 am

    it would be so cool. i could play angry birds in class.

    • Tottaly_A_Woman
      October 8, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Games in the class wold be cool

      • Frank
        October 17, 2018 at 12:05 pm

        No games! It’s for calling parents and research!

      • bre
        May 2, 2019 at 10:59 am

        But then teachers wouldn’t let kids have them in class, cause they’d be too much of a distraction.

  3. Ralifo
    April 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Yes and no. I agree to what has been mentioned regarding all the positives of mobile phones, including the apps available to improve learning like Evernote and Twitter. Also mentioned here was to have an a contract sign and if students break it then too bad. Yes I like this, it can work. We have in my country a policy on mobile phones unfortunately students are told not to take phones to school, they are discouraged because if they did the school heads must know and there is procedure to follow, very strict. This applies to any digital device.

  4. […] “Advantages of Using Cell Phones in the Classroom“ […]

  5. avery
    March 9, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Cell phones should be allowed in class because the students could use them on an English paper for research, or lots of other things. It also teaches students responsibility to have it with them and not get on it secretly while the teacher isn’t looking. They could use their cell phone every day in their future job, like to email a client, schedule an event, and lots of other things. I think that it would be really nice if i could use my phone in school too.

  6. Alexia
    February 22, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I strongly agree with this because as a student I am constantly forgetting to turn in work that I have done and these reminders could help greatly. I also have to take 2 foreign languages next year. This year in 8th grade I have taken one language that I constantly didn’t understand as well as the fact that if teachers do not want us on our devices we can be kindly told to put them away and we would. Students such as myself need a little bit of freedom in the classroom and if we finished all work there should be no problem with us going on our cellphones escpecially when the teachers check theirs a few times through a class.

  7. Tearinee
    February 8, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Yes, I would like to have cellphones in classrooms. It would be awesome, so awesome.

  8. Vanessa
    February 2, 2018 at 11:47 am

    They actually could be more of a liability than a help because they distract people easily

  9. William Finch
    January 26, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    It would be very nice if schools could let phones in.

  10. Wally
    August 24, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Some dance venues collect all cell phones before you’re let in, why not schools. In schools they could be more useful though.