Making the Argument for Using Cellphone in Class

By Catherine Groux
Posted July 02, 2012 12:06 PM

There are many benefits to allowing students to use cellphones in class.
There are many benefits to allowing students to use cellphones in class.
Today, even in the era of technology, many college professors tell their students that if their cellphones ring during class, the devices will be confiscated or the degree seeker will be asked to leave. While most educators believe cellphones should be left at home, some are embracing the technology and discovering how they can foster learning. In fact, according to an article by Educause Review, as smartphones become an increasingly important part of students' lives, teachers may soon find it impossible to ban them from higher education.

"Students are increasingly comfortable using wireless devices to organize their academic work, personal lives, and eventually their professional activities once they graduate into the workforce," the article states. "We have actually reached the point of no return in usage of such technology."

Giving Students Constant Support

According to a 2010 article in USA Today, Georgia Gwinnett College gave more than 300 full- and part-time professors smartphones and instructed them to give their phone numbers to students. Using this strategy, teachers were encouraged to respond to students' calls or texts within 24 hours.

The plan was devised to give students constant academic support, as they can contact their professor whenever they have questions on course material or find themselves struggling in class. Faculty at Georgia Gwinnett hope this strong support system will increase student retention rates and lead to more students earning bachelor's degrees at the school. 

Teaching Students to Proofread

Although he formerly banned cellphone use in his classes, Jed Shahar, an assistant professor at Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, now uses the tools to force students to proofread their work, Inside Higher Ed reports. In his developmental writing course, Shahar requires students to record themselves reading their essays on their phones and in the computer lab. In this way, he finds students can catch small grammatical errors and greatly improve the flow and structure of their work.

Using Apps to Expand the Boundaries of Learning

One of the most significant features of smartphones is that they can be filled with a wide variety of applications, or apps, some of which can help professors foster learning among their students. For example, Campus Technology reports that some teachers use the app Poll Everywhere to ask students what they thought of a certain reading assignment. Their responses then appear on a screen in front of the class as anonymous text messages.

Additionally, other apps help students take their work with them, giving them the chance to study conveniently. Apps like FlashCards++, CoboCards and Quizlet allow students to create their own flash cards, meaning whether they are on the bus or picking their children up from school, they can use their spare minutes to study their course material.

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