I Use My Phone During Class and It’s a Good Thing

Students look down at their smartphones during a class.

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have typically been seen as distractions in the classroom but some educators are taking advantage of these tools, leveraging them to engage student participation and to enhance education.

I remember walking into my first university lecture. During my professor’s introduction, she mentioned the course Twitter handle and hashtag. She explained that she wanted us to take out our phones and devices to participate in the lecture via Twitter. She invited us to tweet at the course code any time about lecture materials, readings, and even with questions about homework.

I was amazed. In a world where Twitter didn’t exist 10 years go, my professor was now leveraging it as a means of communication and engagement with her students. The marking breakdown even included a grade based on my online participation.

Throughout my university experience so far, my phone has stayed out and on during class time. My classmates and I have participated in lectures using our phones in various ways; tweeting quotes from the speaker, responding to a lecturer’s questions, or providing feedback and thoughts about the material. We’ve used an app that measured and plotted our understanding in a real-time graph, prompting the professor to revisit a certain topic when he saw our comprehension dip.

My professors and instructors have tweeted back to the class, or linked us to interesting articles, opening up a level of interaction that would not otherwise be possible in a lecture with hundreds of students. Smartphones are allowing for a more immersive, engaging and interesting educational experience.

If you’re using your phone during class to text your friends or look at Facebook, you’re probably not learning much. Used correctly though, mobile devices open up a world of new learning modes for the modern classroom. The future of learning is in our hands — literally.

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