Here is what we said during our interview with the author of the article.
Once considered a distraction, smartphones are now being used by teachers to expand teaching options
Lisa Nielsen, who blogs at The Innovative Educator and co-authored “Teaching Generation Text,” advocates for cellphone use in classrooms. She has taught students how to record podcasts, use Twitter and post photos to Flickr with their phones.
“My philosophy is that we should be preparing students for the real world, and it’s a world in which we rely on our cellphones constantly,” Nielsen says. “We can engage learners in really powerful ways that were never before possible.”
How cellphone capabilities are changing learning
Willyn Webb, co-author with Nielsen and a high school counselor and assistant principal in Colorado, says that when she started teaching only one video camera was available for her students. Now, thanks to smartphones, every student has the capability to take photos and video, and to stay in the loop when they are not in class.
Apps that Webb has used include Celly, which allows teachers to text students while not revealing phone numbers, and Poll Everywhere, which helps teachers conduct polls through text messages.
With their use of cellphones, students at Webb’s alternative high school are taking on more learning, even without being asked, she says. One time, during a brainstorming session, she took notes on the board and, instead of having students write down the information, she told them to snap a photo with their phones.
“Since they had the picture of the notes in their phones — and the phones are part of their real lives and real worlds — they made a decent amount of progress [at home],” Webb says. “It was a homework assignment I didn’t have to assign. It was part of the device they know, love and always have with them.”