Can smart phone technology take the place of a classroom teacher or librarian? Of course not. However, there have been some major advancements in the smart phone industry in the past several years that can certainly enhance what teachers and librarians can do for and with students. The problem is that many school districts across the country are taking the position that smart phones have no place in education. That could not be further from the truth. What we as educators need to do is teach our students how to use them responsibily and to increase academic success and productivity. We need to embrace them as a tool instead of a distraction.
Let’s face it, students have the technology and are anxious to use it. They want to stay in contact with friends and try out the latest apps. We should be capitalizing on this opportunity to draw them back into the classroom learning environment by using these tools that they are so excited about.
Of course there are disadvantages. How can teachers be sure students are on task? How can teachers gather and evaluate data from the various applications? What if a student doesn’t have access to a smart phone? These are all valid points and issues that educators will truly have to consider before integrating any kind of smart phone technology into their curriculums.
However, consider the possibilities. Students are excited about using the technology. We can teach them how to use it in an educational setting which will prepare them for using it in a professional setting. We can get more students engaged in discussion. Take for example Dr. Monica Rankin, History professor at UT Dallas. In her class of 90 students she cannot possibly call on each student during a discussion so instead, students twitter comments and questions during and after class discussion to stay involved and earn participation points. In the library and the classroom this technology can be used for research, as a study aide, to facilitate discussion, to take group quizzes, to collaborate with other students to create podcasts, to edit photographs to stay organized and to carry multiple books on the go. The possibilities are endless.