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Using Cell Phones in the Classroom: Pros and Cons

Instructor: Derek Hughes
Cell phones have become important in our daily lives. However, their place in education is still undecided. This lesson will detail several pros and cons of using cell phones in the classroom.

Cell Phones in the Classroom

As more and more people have access to cellphones and smartphones, the question of whether to allow them in the classroom is becoming harder to ignore. There are many valid arguments on both sides of the debate and this lesson will detail several of those to help you decide if you want to allow cell phone use in your own classroom. The pros and cons included in this lesson are by no means the only arguments, but should serve as a good introduction to major considerations.

Pros of Cell Phone Use

It is impossible to deny that cellphones have become more useful and innovative over the years. What was once previously simply a device for making and receiving phone calls is now so much more. It has become a tool people use to interact with the world and an important part of many lives. Therefore, there is a strong case for incorporating and allowing cell phone use in the classroom.

For example, most people can use their phones to access the Internet. Think about the last time you had a question about something. Did you wait until you got home to get on the computer to find the answer? Or did you simply take out your phone and do a quick search? Most of us are used to having quick access to the Internet in order to research something. This access can be an incredibly powerful tool in the classroom.

Imagine you are teaching a class and a student has a question you have never gotten before. This question might be one not answered in the textbook. Instead of telling the student that you have to look it up and respond later, you can challenge everyone in the class to find the best answer they can with their phones. This turns a simple question into a valuable research and learning experience for the whole class.

Additionally, there are many apps and websites that you can use to challenge or quiz your students. One such website simply requires students to navigate to the site, enter a simple code, and then everyone can participate in a game show-like quiz session where points are given to whoever gets the correct answer the fastest. This can give you, as the instructor, a quick picture of how much of the material your students are grasping and what they still need to work on.

Finally, cellphones are many people's only contact with their friends and family. Since we rarely have to call someone to talk (we can instead text or email), having an open line of communication in case of an emergency is easier than ever. Say, for example, one of your students has a relative in the hospital. The student might want to stay in touch with family while still attending classes. By allowing cell phone use in your class, that student can feel safe with quick access to texts that won't disrupt class or require the student to leave.

Cons of Cell Phone Use

As with everything else, there are two sides to the cell phone debate. While cell phones can be a useful educational tool, many argue that allowing cell phone use in the classroom might have more negative effects than positive.

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