Earlier this week a co-worker decided to allow her students to use their cell phones in class. No, she was not giving them freedom to call or text. She was allowing the students to use several of the other functions of the phone in order to enhance the content they were studying. For the last half of the class period, students were allowed to use cells phones to do research about a topic and were encouraged to share information and ideas with each other-all via cell phone. I was not surprised to hear that the class was significantly more focused than usual and that the amount of work that was completed was also more than usual.
Today I went into the class to ask the students what they thought. They used words like “freedom”, “trust”, “independence”, “modern” to describe the activity. When I asked them if they thought that some students abused the opportunity by merely using the time to text or look for things on the internet that were not related to the class, they laughed. They said that even if their phones are in their pockets in class, they can still text. They also pointed out that being able to use their phones in class for productive activities decreased their desire to text because they were so interested in the task.
Here is a list of ways a cell phone or ipod could be used productively in class-
researching, finding alternate points of view during a debate, fact checking, collaborating via text, taking pictures to document something, filming, playing with QR codes…
If you have more ideas to add to the list or have used cell phones in class and would like to share your experience…leave a comment! I want to hear about it!