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Can Students Use Smartphones For Educational Purposes?

Jul 26, 2021

Teachers around the world are incorporating smartphone technology into the classroom, but parents are understandably hesitant to support these practices. After all, the smartphone is notorious for its negative attributes. It is blamed for attention deficiencies, social media addiction, and sleep issues among other things. In the smartphone-friendly classroom, many people imagine children posting, texting, and watching viral video content instead of engaging in educational endeavors. But there is another side to smartphones that enhances education, and smartphones can be used for educational purposes. 

Smartphones in the Classroom

It is good to look at examples of smartphone use in the classroom in order to understand their advantages. 

In one example, it was noted that students were quieter and able to focus on their work better when allowed to listen to music on their smartphones. In this case, the phone lessened distraction instead of being one. 

Other teachers use apps to remind students of their homework. It turns out, many students lack the organizational skills to remember and find time to complete homework. Offering an organizational tool that reminded students removed this barrier to education. 

Finally, the access to information from smartphones is undeniable. Not only do students using smartphones in the classroom benefit from increased digital literacy, but they also gain access to a literal world of knowledge. Teachers admit that unfettered access to smartphones can lead to other work that is not task-oriented. However, allowing smartphones to be used openly with active teacher oversight drastically reduced use that was not school-related. 

Education Gaps Narrowed with Smartphone Technology

The ongoing effort to deliver equitable education to all students regardless of disability, socioeconomic status, or other factors is helped by the introduction of smartphones into the classroom. An increasing number of students from every demographic have smartphones in their pockets. This means that they have access to internet and communication technologies (ICTs) regardless of school budgets or their at-home resources. 

In other words, students do not have barriers to accessing educational materials when they have smartphones. Schools that don't have enough computers for their student body can take advantage of the resources their students already have. Smartphones don't need to be viewed as the downfall of effective education delivery. They can complement and enrich the education each child receives. 

Challenges in Using Smartphones for Educational Purposes

Many educators have adopted zero-tolerance policies for smartphone use in the classroom. In some cases, this has only caused rule-breaking, punitive measures, and a decrease in classroom efficacy. Students are forced to hide their smartphone use instead of learning in an environment that recognizes the saturation of digital technologies within the environment. 

A restructuring of the classroom is one solution to the transformation of smartphones from a distraction to an educational benefit. Teachers are quickly realizing that an active approach to adopting proper smartphone use is an advantage to their curriculum, but they have to embrace it. 

This means allowing smartphone use but actively monitoring it by visiting the desks or workstations of students. When students are openly allowed to use their smartphones, they are less likely to engage in prohibited behaviors. It is understood that they will stray from studies at some point, but the oversight provided by educators helps to redirect those behaviors. In this way, students learn to properly use smartphones for the advanced educational tools that they have the propensity to be. 

The Shift to Digital Education Includes Smartphones 

Teachers and parents overwhelmingly agree that technology is an important part of education. However, they often think of technology in terms of STEM subjects like engineering and coding. In reality, students are already learning to use technology the minute they have their hands on a smartphone, and the education system must adapt to this fact. 

If students are to glean every benefit from modern day technology, then parents too must encourage using smartphones for educational purposes. Yes, this comes with the struggle of access to social media and controversial material. But students can be taught to properly use smartphones inside the classroom and at home. Removing the taboo nature of smartphone use in the classroom and at home will encourage its use for educational purposes. 

Contact Futures Academy if you are interested in premium personalized learning for grades 6-12.