For years, teachers and administrators have pushed back against smartphones as a distraction in the classroom. While it’s definitely easy to get distracted by Facebook or games, smartphones aren’t necessarily an enemy to childhood education. In fact, creative teachers are actually embracing the use of smartphones in schools as a tool for learning. Here are five ways smartphones can be an asset in the classroom.
Students and Parents Can Communicate on Social Media
Teachers used to let students know about homework orally in class, or they would write the assignments on the board or in notes to take home. Naturally, some students ignored these reminders and then claimed they had never heard about any homework or upcoming quizzes. Today’s teachers are taking advantage of technology as a tool for communicating with their students.
Most teachers have websites for their classes, but they can also be on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram in order to share information with their students and with other teachers. This way, students can see upcoming assignments on a platform that they already use. Parents can also follow their child’s classes on social media and make sure their kids are prepared for success.
Teachers Can Make the Classroom More Engaging
Smartphones make it easy for teachers to create interactive lesson plans that take students out of their books and get them answering questions. They can create trivia games where students buzz in with answers, or they can simply use a buzzer app for kids to ring when they think they know the answer.
Not only is this a fun way for students to learn, it’s also a way for teachers to understand what questions are stumping their students. By analyzing which questions most of the students get right and which ones are often wrong, teachers can see where students are getting stuck and review those points. They can also improve their tests by learning which questions are confusing for their pupils.
Assignments Can Harness Digital Creativity
Instead of simply assigning reading and writing projects for students to better understand the material, many teachers are stepping outside the box and letting students create multimedia assignments with the help of their smartphones. They might film a video about Lewis and Clark in their backyards, or record a rap about the Constitution. If they have smartphones with high-quality cameras, like the Apple iPhone 6s, with its 12MP iSight camera and True Tone flash, they can create photo essays that review the material. Breaking away from paper and pen can result in endless possibilities.
Collaboration and Note-Taking Is Easier With Google Docs
Students can share notes and use tools like Google Docs and Google Forms to fill in the gaps. They can also share notes if their peers miss class. One of the most popular group activities used by instructors is the “group teach,” where groups of students work together to teach part of the lesson plan to their peers. With this strategy and the power of smartphones, students can become better speakers and improve their group project skills while staying on top of the material. Group projects become easier as teams share their work and combine individual parts to form whole papers, presentations, and spreadsheets. The classroom can become a collaborative environment.
Students Can Call In On Their Sick Days
Not only can students use Google Docs to read the notes and follow their teachers on Twitter to learn about assignments, they can even call in during certain lessons if they have to miss school for a sick day or family emergency. Some teachers are calling in to Skype or broadcasting their lessons in Google Hangouts so that kids who are away can follow along. Some students might not find this to be ideal — the best part of being sick is lying in bed watching cartoons all day — but it’s an important solution for those who can’t miss important lessons or reviews before a test.
Most students already have personal smartphones, but many districts are starting to buy them for classroom instruction. As smartphones become more ubiquitous, it’s likely that more teachers will use them in lesson plans to make the learning experience more engaging for everyone involved.