Smartphones: Classroom Nuisance or Alternative Learning Tool?

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Smartphones have existed for the past decade or so and in the time that it has been part of our lives, people seem to be divided as to its educational value. Some individuals believe that the use of technology is necessary in order for teachers to reach students. By allowing them to interact on a platform that they both understand, multiple learning opportunities can be created and augmented. However, there are others who believe that smartphones only serve as a distraction, taking time and attention away from the students that should be used in order to digest and understand the material that is being taught.

Multiple schools in the United States have implemented bans on smartphones within schools. Bethel Middle School, located in Waynesville, North Carolina, took provisions in the month of March and banned the use of smartphones in class, starting from the beginning of the day until the final bell. Administrators expressed that smartphones only cause distractions, which prevent students from fully learning their coursework. In an effort to minimize distractions, school districts within Wisconsin banned cell phones within the classroom last September. In one school, classroom performance was said to have improved after the confiscation of more than 200 phones during the school year. Other schools in the United States have created bans on cell phones and have reported an increase in student focus and interaction.

In Europe, the French Parliament implemented a law that banned student aged 15 and below from bringing smartphones and similar devices to school. At the very least, the students were required to turn the phones off when at school. In Great Britain, British educators are also considering following the footsteps of the French. A study from the London School of Economics has shown that banning phones in schools led to a 6 percent rise in test and exam scores.

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Other progressive states within the US have expressed that smartphones are actually beneficial to the learning of students. Being able to use them as an alternative learning tool offers up so many opportunities for both students and teachers. In Florida, student leaders have expressed an alternative to smartphone bans, recognizing how smartphones have become a vital part of the lives of students everywhere. Other schools have integrated smartphones in their curriculum, using the technology to give students modules, quizzes, seatwork, and other parts of the class that could be integrated with the smartphone. Schools that have more relaxed or even integrate smartphones in the curriculum recognize that depriving students of access to smartphones means depriving them of something that could help them learn. These institutions believe that students can be taught to see smartphones as a tool for educations instead of a tool that is against education.

There are multiple factors to take into account when discussing the pros and cons of smartphone use within the classroom. However, in this era of technology, going against the current would mean being left behind by innovation. In multiple countries across the world, educational technology is being created and innovated in order to revolutionize education. For too long, the education system has remained unchanged. By disallowing students to use their smartphones within the class, institutions are depriving them of one avenue where educational technology can pass through. The smartphone was created in order to assist individuals in multiple aspects of their lives, and school is one of them. With the world becoming more tech-centric and more inclined to innovations regarding multiple aspects in their life, a classroom without smartphones would mean a classroom that is left in the past.

The main reason why schools started banning or limiting the use of smartphones within their classrooms is that they believe that it only distracted the students from their studies. However, the reason why they believe so is that smartphones are not being integrated into how students receive and understand class material. However, if integration happens and students are more able to understand the material in class, the problems and fears that school administrators have regarding smartphones will be minimized.