The world has moved from the days when mobile gadgets (phones especially) were just luxury possessions in the hand of a few rich people. Today, if you look around you, everyone, young and old, now has a smartphone. Apparently, we can't almost do without our phones.
From communicating with our loved ones to us getting to know about the current happenings in our society, we always want to tap on the screens of our phones. Whether we like it or not, we really need our phones to get by every day. They do not only facilitate human communication but also familiarise us with the operations of the world (Donner, 2008).
In the educational sector, mobile phones are valuable tools in the hands of students and instructors alike. The simplicity that's attached to the handlings of mobile phones makes it easier for us to share information, teach and acquire the requisite knowledge we need for individual development and societal improvement. In fact, we have access to a lot of simple educational apps on our mobile phones that expand our knowledge base and keep us connected to the activities happening near and far away from us (Motlik, 2008).
However, many people, especially adults, despite how important and effective phone use is, still view mobile phones as a great distraction to the students of nowadays. Even though this (that phones can be a distraction to students) might be somehow true in certain ways, it would still be totally wrong to generally reject them as one the best educational tools we can use to reduce the rate of concentration and failure among many students in the US, and other countries for that matter.
Many educational institutions even prohibit the use of smartphones in school just to keep their students' determination focused on academic success. But in today's world, you'll find out that this ancient academic measure is not at all effective. Things have actually changed a lot.
Statistics show that more than half of the whole population of children in the US (about 53%) use phones. 84% of high school students, now have smartphones that expose them to a more advanced understanding of how the world works (Kamenetz, 2019). Phones have penetrated the students' life, which is why it must be adopted as a tool to teach students what they need to learn (Kamenetz, 2019; Geddes, 2004).
Studies have shown that students particularly use their phones to complete their assignments (Kamenetz, 2019; Wagner and Kozma, 2005; Bresnahan, 2015). Basically, students need to sometimes check for the meaning of new words, translate foreign-language expressions, download useful materials they can read and all sorts, and they use their mobile phones. Without these phones, access to important information will be difficult. As a result, they lose their enthusiasm to complete their assignments and may decide to discontinue them at the end of the day.
They are a lot of reasons students should be allowed to use their mobile phones in classes or at home (Wagner and Kozma, 2005). As mentioned earlier, there are a number of resourceful applications (in-class and out of class) that can be introduced to students to facilitate their learning processes. Instructors are usually advised to make use of smartphones for the smooth and effective transfer of knowledge to their students (Bresnahan, 2015).
Students can make use of online resources like Google to search for topics and download essential materials on different topics. Instant messaging apps can also be used between students and teachers for educational purposes (Bresnahan, 2015).
Presently, the COVID-19 pandemic has even forced many institutions all over the world to adopt online methods to continue their academic calendar. In about 186 countries all over the world, it has been said that over 1.2 billion are being affected by school closure (Li and Lalani, 2020), which demonstrates the need for the smartphones altogether.
Studies have also been able to confirm the fact that online learning enhances retention in students (Li and Lalani, 2020). Since students have their mobile phones with them always, they can always confirm information online (Keegan, 2002). They also easily remember anything they learn on their phone because online learning affords them space, time, and duration suitable to their personal preferences.
Social media platforms are also useful in encouraging students to learn. Teachers can connect with their students on WhatsApp, YouTube, Evernote, Dropbox, and so on to transfer information and also send relevant materials (Bresnahan, 2015).
Beyond class works, phones can also help students in gathering pictures, audios, and videos that they can use for school projects. Phones can also be used to document events and a host of other activities that students can easily learn from (Geddes, 2004). Teachers can use maps when trying to locate driving routes on school trips and excursions.
Instructors have been using computers and also encouraging their use amongst students, which is why mobile phones shouldn't be difficult to accept in the classroom environment. Phones can do virtually everything a computer can do, create documents, record and edit videos and audios, graphic design, and a hot of other things that help them in their assignments and class projects (Bresnahan, 2015).
Phones are truly a distraction amongst students, especially those in middle and high schools (Valk, Rashid, and Elder, 2010). However, if put to good use, they can be a great learning tool. Phones have proven to be of great benefit to both teachers and students. This is why teachers need to start adopting them as an external means of strengthening the motivation of their students (Keegan, 2002).
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