I came across an article on ProfHacker detailing some of the “highlights” from a report by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR), the annual ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013.
One of the data points that was highlighted was that when it comes to smartphones and, to a lesser extent, tablets, student are told to leave them at the door. Or at least leave them in their bags or pockets. Laptops, I noticed, are slightly more encouraged or required. I fully admit that during the class I taught, I didn’t put smartphones to use. I regret that. Considering how attached I am to my own device (although I did at least exhibit good behaviour there and leave my own in my bag too), you might think I’d have caught on. I was still stuck in the mentality I’d had demonstrated by my own instructors, that there was no place for technology in the classroom.
With products like PollEverywhere and those like it, with easy access to Google or other search options, smartphones are more and more powerful tools in the classroom. While I agree there are times when they need to be set down, there are a lot of times when a quick hit on your smartphone can help you focus and bring you back.
More than that, these are tools that many of us know well. We have an opportunity to show students ways to use them, ways they might not otherwise have considered. I am constantly looking things up on my phone, trying apps. My husband uses apps to help keep track of his homework and deadlines. I take pictures of things I need or want to remember. I can send a quick email, jot something down, set a reminder. I don’t just use it to text or tweet or take “selfies.”
So what about you? What ways do you use your smartphone or tablet that you think your students could benefit from? What cool things are you doing in your classroom with a smartphone?