To many parents and teachers, openly allowing smart phones in the classroom may not seem like the best idea. Many adults view cell phones primarily as a distraction that impedes learning, and with smart phones, the potential for distraction is even greater. Surprisingly, though, a simple smart phone from mybullfrog.com can be much more than a source of entertainment or means of connecting socially; it can double as a powerful learning resource for today’s students.
Smart Phone Use Is Becoming Prevalent
In the last few decades, cell phones have become increasingly advanced, affordable, and widely used. Today, many people own smart phones that have essentially the same capabilities as computers. The number of people who use these phones is only growing, and young people account for a surprising proportion of smart phone owners.
In 2012, Neilson Research found that 55 percent of cell phone users owned smart phones. Nearly 74 percent of adults between ages 25 and 35 used smart phones, as did 58 percent of teenagers. In other words, the proportion of teenagers who owned smart phones was greater than the proportion of the general population that did. With so many students regularly using smart phones, these devices have great potential to enhance learning.
A Multitude of Educational Apps
Today, there is an app for almost every purpose, so it is not surprising that thousands of educational apps exist. Out of more than 1.5 million apps available through Apple in 2012, over 150,000, or more than 1 in 10, were educational. Many of these apps are geared toward younger students mastering fundamentals, such as colors, numbers, and letters. Children’s learning books are also inventively reimagined in the form of apps. For older students, Apple offers a collection of over 75,000 apps that can be used in the classroom.
Benefits of Digital Learning
Bringing smart phones into the classroom is not just a good idea because of the prevalence of smart phones and the staggering number of educational apps. Learning with the help of a smart phone offers distinct advantages for students. Many students may feel more comfortable studying with devices they use regularly. Other students may benefit from the instant, correct feedback and information that a smart phone offers. Smart phones can also make learning more memorable and exciting by showing rather than telling and by allowing students to explore information in depth. Finally, smart phones may make it easier for even the most reserved students to collaborate and learn from each other.
The Future of Smart Phones in Education
Many teachers recognize that the relevant question is no longer whether smart phones belong in the classroom; the use of better technology to facilitate learning is almost inevitable. Instead, teachers must question how they can effectively use smart phones while avoiding negative effects on student focus, performance, or interactions.
Teachers must work past few obstacles to use smart phones successfully in the classroom. They must not let students with smart phones enjoy an unfair advantage or misuse their phones. The risks that students will cheat, misuse their phones, or suffer socially are risks that must be addressed. Still, there is no denying that young people use smart phones for a growing number of purposes, including educating themselves. Teachers could help their students advance even further by formally tapping into this new educational tool.