How smart are smartphones at school?

Teachers are divided as to whether mobile phones are a help or a hinderance in the classroom. With the majority of schools having a mobile phone ban, we discuss the positives and negatives of the use of smartphones in the classroom.

Smartphones are essentially a computer in your pocket!

  • As many schools cannot afford to provide computers for every child, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programmes are becoming widespread. Why not make use of the powerful computer in almost every teenagers’ pocket – and encourage after-school education, as a result?
  • Jill Hodges, Founder of Fire Tech says: “There are tonnes of schools that we see where kids are using technology in good ways. They’re being creative, they’re able to collaborate and communicate, and share ideas they have.”
  • If smartphones can be incorporated into lessons, and the emphasis is on independent study, this may encourage deep learning (see last week’s blog)

  • Online voting tools, such as Turning Point, give teachers and students an instant indication of the level of understanding – and suggest which topics need re-capping.

  • Teachers can use social media, such as Twitter, to interact with students, answer questions, set assignments and much more.

  • “Children need to learn to self-regulate. They’re not being given the opportunity to do that if their phones are taken away at the start of the day.” says Paul Howard-Jones, a professor of neuroscience and education at the University of Bristol.

Banning mobile phones improves test scores

  • Research by the London School of Economics concluded that banning mobile phones in schools led to a 6% increase in test scores – and low achieving and low-income students gained the most.

  • The authors put this down to mobile phones causing distractions, reducing productivity and being detrimental to learning.

  • The use of smartphones by young people has been linked to mental ill-health, including increased levels of depression, anxiety and even suicide.

  • Mobile phones in schools have been linked to increases in cyberbullying

It seems to us that mobile devices – if used responsibly and are carefully regulated by schools – can be a fantastic educational tool. But what do you think? Could you resist the temptation to network with your friends or play games on your phone? Or would you feel more motivated in the classroom if you were allowed to use a smartphone. Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, and let’s get a conversation going with teachers!