So many ruminations on what smartphone technologies offer the wired classroom begin with some permutation of how, at first, cell phones are often the bane of teachers’ existence because they cause disruptions. This isn’t one of those ruminations. Let’s just go straight to the suggestions, shall we?
- Use educational apps:
One of the simplest strategies for engaging students using smartphones involves taking advantage of the thousands of educational apps as supplements.
- Create educational apps:
After familiarizing kiddos with properly navigating smartphone apps, challenge some of the more tech-oriented ones to design and develop their own; Stanford already offers an open-source class on the subject!
- Scavenger hunts:
Smartphone scavenger hunts have proven a popular pastime for technophiles, and teachers have been known to use them to provide interactive lessons about everything from natural history to nature. It’s an easy concept to adapt!
- Shooting video:
Whether requiring short PSAs, as the linked assignment does, or another type of video entirely, students with smartphones make it easier than ever to shoot, edit, and share their digital projects.
Turn the classroom into an educational MST3K equivalent by equipping smartphones with Twitter and allow students to offer up their own comments and ask questions via a real-time feed that does not disrupt the flow of a lecture.
- Project Noah:
Biology educators love transforming their students into “citizen scientists” by asking them to snap photos and videos of their wilderness finds and sharing them with pros and fellow fans alike.
- Send reminders:
Whether through text or apps like Remind 101, smartphones offer greater connectivity so teachers ensure students know when assignments are due, what materials to bring, test schedules, and more.
- Text message rewrites:
In order to get younger readers more familiar with the ins and outs of classic texts — such as Romeo and Juliet in this example — some intrepid educators are assigning rewrites in abbreviated speech through text messaging. Translating old stories into contemporary vernacular nurtures a greater understanding of the major themes, characters, and plotlines.
- Record podcasts:
With mobile audio technology, classrooms featuring podcasts can record and share their commentaries and interviews on the go
Similar to a scavenger hunt, only more involved and detailed, classroom geocaching projects encourage participants to keep the movement flowing by adding their own treasure chests for other users to track down.
Explaining smartphone potential in creating greater accessibility for special needs students is an article in and of itself, as there are myriad applications for different requirements varying in severity.
- Remembering notes:
Some teachers allow their students to snap photos of the chalkboard or whiteboard as class wraps up in case they couldn’t finish taking their notes fast enough.
- Access textbooks:
For classrooms where the textbooks are available via the Internet or ebook readers, smartphones equipped with browsers and e-reading apps lower the back strain associated with toting everything around in bookbags.
- QR codes:
Create QR codes and let students scan them for quick access to class materials, supplements, and anything else they might need to earn the best grades possible.
- Encourage literacy:
Whether teaching ESL, special needs, or mainstream students, numerous apps, assignments, and smartphone features allow users to learn grammar, spelling, pronunciation, and other essential literacy skills.
Both teachers and students alike laud smartphones as portable, quick, and convenient strategy for staying on top of anything and everything related to schooling. No assignments necessary — they just plain work!
- Going paperless:
Green up the classroom by converting as many class materials to digital as possible and encouraging students to store everything on their smartphones, tablets, computers, or other device.
- Preserving lectures:
Shooting videos of lectures allows students who miss class or may not have caught something the first time around play catch up come exam time.
- Alarms and timers:
Almost every smartphone these days comes with a timer and an alarm function, so flip it on when students must complete tasks within specific temporal boundaries.
- Crowdsourcing solutions:
Assign each student (or, more realistically, student groups) a smartphone and ask them to network with other individuals (or groups) to share their findings about what they’ve learned with the hopes of formulating more viable approaches to classroom content.
- After-school programs:
Rather than spending classroom time creating smartphone applications, some schools have started offering such training as an extracurricular activity in order to build lucrative skill sets and keep students away from dangerous decisions.
- Field research:
Laptops are bulky, and many educators and students alike have taken to gathering research out in the field in order to better conserve their energy and available space.
Seeing as how most smartphones sync up with e-mail providers, it provides one more convenient communication conduit between teachers and students.
Instructors who love punctuating lectures with visuals like slideshows can convert their smartphones into tools for scrolling through materials.
For content unsuitable for shooting video, equip smartphone devices with the proper resources needed to draw up animations depicting anything at all – though physics and science demonstrations work nicely.
- Google Maps:
Available even on non-Android phones, Google Maps and similar applications provide numerous educational opportunities for geography and history classes in particular. Some teachers might even like the idea of drawing up virtual field trips students can participate in via their smartphones.
Have students draw or shoot photos of sequential images and challenge them to draw up their own stories or storyboards involving both text and visuals.
Blogging provides a wonderfully diverse tool for establishing a digital classroom, and it’s easy for teachers and students alike to post, comment, read, and follow analytics.
- Critical thinking:
Ask students to open up their smartphone browsers and send them to fake websites meant to nurture in them vital critical thinking skills about parsing fact from fiction on the Internet and beyond.
- Emergency numbers:
Because so many preschoolers and kindergartners love playing with their parents’ smartphones, some teachers have incorporated the devices into lessons about dialing their country’s respective emergency lines.
Calculators come standard on pretty much every smartphone these days, and multiple apps exist for ones that either don’t have them or lack more advanced functions. It should be fairly obvious what benefits they provide the classroom!
- Grading and feedback:
Not only do smartphones allow for grading on the go, text and e-mail functions mean teachers have a way to ship feedback students can’t lose (or feed to their dogs) as easily as a sheet of paper.
- Memorization skills:
Create and distribute digital flash cards so students can stay on top of what they need to know – or, better yet, make them write and trade their own! Research suggests that fusing technology with traditional methods helps nurture memorization skills, despite stereotypes of smartphone owners as forgetful types.
For medical students and the pros who pass their knowledge onto them, smartphones have largely replaced pagers as the go-to device when things get real. In fact, some teaching hospitals and med schools even require enrollees to own one.
Encourage students to be as Tesla as they can be with these hacks meant to teach and analyze acceleration via censor.
- Augmented reality:
Whether via apps or something designed specifically for the class, augmented reality enhances the classroom experience and are easily accessed and created on smartphones.
- Take attendance:
Some intrepid educators love location-based check-in games like Foursquare for taking attendance that can’t be faked or lost.
- Teaching digital literacy:
Responsibly using smartphones instills in students the digital literacy skills necessary to succeed in current — and, likely, the foreseeable future — job markets, so get them started as early as resources allow!
Take quick surveys of what students think and want by asking them to respond via smartphone apps designed specifically for realtime feedback.
OK, so technically this one isn’t the classroom, but it remains a great idea all the same. Some colleges, such as Berkeley, provide downloadable content allowing potential students to get to know the campus layout and history of the different features.