Why cell phones are useful in schools, now more than ever

Cell phones are everywhere, and why not? These pocket devices possess capabilities that would have been relegated to the realm of science fiction mere decades ago, but are now at our fingertips whenever we want.

Are cell phones educational tools?

The short answer is yes, there are many was to integrate cell phones into the classroom as an educational tool. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 96% of adults in the United States ages 18 to 29, and 81 percent of all adults, own a smartphone, which means this powerful tool is readily available to most college students.

The ubiquity of cell phones has its downsides, though. In the field of education, for example, cell phones, tablets and laptops have become such a distraction that some have called for them to be banned from the classroom altogether.

That’s certainly one option. However, what if instructors could harness the power of these devices in order to enhance the learning experience, rather than detract from it? Many are doing just that, often with the help of educational technology like TurningPoint.

How can cell phones be useful in school?

If you want to take the plunge and integrate cell phones into your classroom, keep in mind that it needs to be done in a deliberate, thoughtful way. In fact, the proper use of cell phones and other devices should be a part of your syllabus from day one so that everyone is on the same page.

In addition, our TurningPoint software makes cell phones valuable engagement tools in a wide variety of ways. Here are just a few strategies to consider.

If you want to take the plunge and integrate cell phones into your classroom, keep in mind that it needs to be done in a deliberate, thoughtful way.

Take attendance

A regular attendance routine is a great way to get everyone to class on time and ready to learn. This can get unwieldy for instructors, however, who have to painstakingly mark absences at the start of every session. For large classes, the challenges are even greater.

TurningPoint takes away those challenges by letting students check in at the start of class with the click of a button. Further, instructors can use location-based attendance to ensure that everyone is actually in the classroom and ready to go.

For the instructor, our attendance grid provides an at-a-glance view of which participants are present and which are absent. Easily sortable columns, along with the ability to change a participant’s status for any given session, further enhance the user experience.

Conduct frequent assessments

Formative assessments have been shown to enhance learning and improve retention of the material. TurningPoint allows for daily quizzes and interactive questions during lessons as a means of implementing assessments throughout a course, and providing insights into student understanding.

Students use their cell phones to answer these questions, a process that has nearly no learning curve since they are already familiar with the device. The immediate results often prompt discussions among students, while also eliminating time that instructors would have spent grading assignments, which can now be put to better use.

Interact with images

Cell phones, tablets and laptops provide students the ability to interact with images in ways that are not possible otherwise. With TurningPoint’s hotspot feature, you can simply upload an image, set the correct answer hotspot area (if applicable) and ask students to tap their screen to indicate their response. Hotpot questions are great for a wide range of questions including, for example, asking students to choose a specific geographic region on a map or to indicate a certain bone or muscle group on an image of the human body.

Support active learning

Techniques like peer instruction, team-based learning and the aforementioned formative assessment all make for a lively and effective classroom atmosphere. TurningPoint mobile responding – with interactive questions, assessments and surveys – makes these techniques possible regardless of class size.

For the best results, do not just use cell phones and laptops occasionally, but instead make them a frequent and essential form of engagement throughout the entire class. When students are constantly using their phones to answer interactive questions, do research or engage with their classmates, there simply isn’t time for social media or other digital distractions.

Want to integrate phones and other web-enabled devices into your classroom with TurningPoint?