“Put your mobile phone away!”: Are you Kidding?

Some educational institutions have a  very clear rule: no mobile phones in lessons.  I’m not disagreeing with this. What I am doing is taking a reality check. Students are literally… 13557800_1416481335035387_4218592803150921702_n

So rather than wasting time as a teacher constantly telling students to put their phones away or students thinking harder about how they can read their latest message without been spotted rather than the lesson itself (by the way teachers know the book tilt to cover the phone or the interesting light up lap stare – who are you fooling!) why not use mobile phones as part of the learning?

At the end of the day, current mobile phones are like mini computers, students have an abundance of resources at their finger tips, if only they utilised it for their learning. And once their phones are no longer taboo (I am as bored telling my students to put their phones away, as the students are hearing it), my experience seems to be that students are no longer fixated upon them (this does of course differ over classes).

So let’s just accept that you are able to use your own discretion as to when it is (or is not) appropriate to use mobile phones as part of your students’ learning. What would that learning look like?

  • To answer questions: teachers are asked hundreds of questions in a day. Once you trawl through the “have you got a spare pen? Can I go to the toilet?” questions you are left with “what does that mean? How long ago did he live?  What is another word for?” and sometimes rather than being the oracle of all answers I just say “Google it!”
  • Finding quotes/ original sources: the internet is a bank of knowledge with A* potential all over it. Within my subject (and I imagine within many others) the use of quotes shows wider reading, extended understanding and a more mature, academic writing ability. All students have to do is type into their internet e.g Plato quotes and you can sit back as the extended reading takes place.
  • Download educational apps such as: Memrise, iMindMap or Revision App and use these as quick starter or plenary activities for your students to test themselves and establish good skills such as revision. And because students are never without their phones it demonstrates to them that they can study/ revise whenever or wherever they are.
  • Access powerpoints: using sites such as SlideShare
  • Upload exam board materials: such as mark schemes, examiners comments, past answers, potential questions
  • My blog: only joking (!!) but there are a number of revision chat rooms, educational blogs and helpful websites all there ready to be accessed.

You just need to point your students in the right direction. Of course they will get distracted but through helping them see their phones as a resource to help them learn, reading the odd text might slip into your lesson but I have a feeling the odd revision app or educational website will then slip into their social life as well.

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