Does Research Support Letting Students Use Cell Phones for Learning?
Always on their phones. Lightening fast thumbs sharing content on Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and more. While teens, teachers, and parents are familiar with cell phone's use as a social tool, more and more are discovering they are a great learning resource as well. There's even evidence and research to prove it.
This is useful for the texting teen trying to convince school staff or a parent that they really do use their devices for learning. It is also useful for innovative educators who are trying to convince administration and explain to parents why they want to empower students by letting them use the devices they own and love.
Here's the research supporting student's use of mobile devices for learning.
Transform education, engage students, and improve outcomes with mobile devices
A majority of secondary students and administrators believe having access to a mobile device is an essential component of learning at school. This paper considers ways in which mobile devices improve learning. It focuses on the ability of mobile devices to provide content and facilitate information access wherever a student is located. It also shows how use of mobile devices can sustain high levels of student engagement and peer collaboration. Source: Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. See: Mobile Learning: Transforming Education, Engaging Students, and Improving Outcomes.
Despite their disruptive track record, mobile devices have potential for learning
This report uses a cross-section of research, policy, and industry experts to show how mobile technologies can be used for learning. It shows how mobile devices can help promote the knowledge, skills, and perspectives children will need for success.The report highlights five opportunities to seize mobile learning's unique attributes to improve education: 1. Encourage "anywhere, anytime" learning 2. Reach underserved children 3. Improve 21st-century social interactions 4. Fit with learning environments 5. Enable a personalized learning experience Source: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. See: Pockets of potential--using mobile technologies to promote children's learning.
Middle school students using smart phones are more interested in STEM
More than one third of middle school students in this study reported using mobile phones for homework. Those who do are more likely to express an interest in science, tech, engineering, and math subjects. They also say smart phones help them learn those subjects better. Source: The Journal. See: Middle School Students Using Smart Phones, More Interested in STEM.
Texting teens write better on exams
A comprehensive comparison of exam papers was conducted by Cambridge Assessment, the Department of Cambridge University. It found that despite the fear that texting may have hindered teen's ability to write, "The quality of many features of writing by school leavers has improved." The two year study found that teenagers are using more complex sentence structures, a wider vocabulary and a more accurate use of capital letters, spelling and punctuation skills than in the past. Source: Times. See: Texting teenagers are proving "more literate than ever before.
Texting teens do better on writing assignments
A study from California State University researchers has found that texting can improve teens' writing in informal essays and many other writing assignments. Source:U.S. News. See: Could texting be good for students?
Cell phones support research-based teaching and learning strategies
An entire chapter of "Teaching Generation Text" called "Supporting Research-Based Instructional Strategies Using Cell Phones" is devoted to sharing how cell phones can support the research-based teaching and learning strategies featured in the book Classroom Instruction That Works, by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock. The chapter provides lesson plans as examples of how to put this in practice. Readers learn how to use cell phones to poll students, create phone casts, use Avatars for oral presentations, encourage note taking, summarizing, brainstorming, goal setting, and more. The chapter also addresses how the National Education Technology Standards (NETS) are met through the use of cell phones. Source: Jossey-Bass. See: Teaching generation text: Using cell phones to enhance learning.
Teachers realize positive use of cellphones in the classroom
Researchers George Engle, a High School teacher in West Nyack, NY, and Tim Green, professor of educational technology at California State University at Fullerton say when students used cell phones in class there was an increase in class participation and in the quality of assessments. Students were also better able to prove their understanding and learned to reflect on their work. Source: Educational Research Newsletters + Webinars. See: Teachers report on experience using cell phones in math class.
Cell phone video streaming helps increase early childhood literacy
Anxieties adults have about teens and tech create a wall
In her book (available online for free) danah boyd (she spells it lowercase) explains that the anxieties adults have about teens using social media and mobile devices are destructive to adult-youth relationships. She looks at how youth in generations past had an abundance of opportunities to be on their own without being under the watchful eye of adults. Today's overscheduled youth are using social media and their mobile devices to engage with their peers the same way their parents did with their secret clubs or games played on the street. The book encourages adults to embrace the always connected world of youth while also working on creating a network of trusted network young people can turn to for advice. Source: Yale University Press. See: It's complicated: The social lives of networked teens.
There will always be naysayers who want to push back against the idea of students bringing their devices to class, but the research is clear. When we don't allow students to tap into the power of their tiny machines with huge information access, we do them a disservice, and hobble their future opportunities. What kids learn is important; allowing kids to choose how they learn can open doors as well.