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Cell phones are quickly becoming a staple in the daily life and functions of people around the world. From providing you with endless hours of entertainment to keeping in touch with family, friends and even helping you find that special someone through an Internet dating app, there's no question why smartphones have become so popular. But it doesn't stop there. More than anything else – yes, even gaming – smartphones are tools. They help run businesses and allow you to keep a world of knowledge and information in your pocket.

It's these very capabilities that make cell phones (and tablets, too) particularly advantageous in some of the last places you would ever think. First and foremost, some schools have started dabbling on the idea of allowing mobile phone and tablet use in the classroom. The Guardian reports that a secondary school in Kent became the first in the UK to equip each of the 1,400 students in attendance with iPads. Some grade schools and universities across the United States have also done this, while others give their students a choice between a computer or a tablet.

Recent studies reveal that 88 percent of students have used their cell phone for texting in class, and 30 percent use it more than once per class. Cell phones being allowed in class would be a dream come true ... for students. Gone would be the days of straining your neck and eyes to text under the cover of a table or desk, and Facebooking during those dreadfully boring lectures would be so much easier.

It is this very reason that teachers oppose technology use in the classroom, despite all the advantages it could actually bring to the students. Research and reference look-up could be done from the student's desk – no more trips to the computer lab. Specialized applications and educational software could be loaded onto students' devices to better cater to the individual needs or shortcomings of each student. Homework assignments could be synchronized automatically. The possibilities are quite literally endless.

Teachers and administrators worry that cell phones will cause distractions and might potentially make them lose control of their class. Without the right approach, I have no doubt in my mind that it would. Students would be playing Angry Brids and tweeting before the teacher could say, "Good morning, class."

So how could they actually make classroom cell phone use helpful instead of distracting?

They could always take the time to patrol the room and keep everyone on task, like they always did when I was in high school of course. Sure, some students would inevitably slip through the cracks. But there are no stopping some people; they will do anything and everything they can, stopping at nothing, to defy the teacher and stay off task. And students at desks using the tiny screens of a smartphone is much harder to monitor than an 18-inch computer monitor.

Any applications that require a data connection actually wouldn't be too hard to block out. Issuing cell phone jammers – which many schools already do anyway – would keep them from getting on the Internet via data connection. They could then have the students join a provided Wi-Fi network that blocks out any sites they see fit (adult sites, social media, etc.). It's keeping them off of those ridiculously addicting games that would be the hard part.

Another problem is equal opportunity. Not every family can afford to provide their child with a smartphone. This is where the school would have to step in and provide them with one (not for keeps), and something like the Kindle Fire would be the perfect solution. It's cheap, sufficient and with a little work, could be locked down to the school's specifications. In turn, this could keep students from installing and running other software and games and help keep them on task.

Personally, I used a BlackBerry my last two years of high school to take notes, schedule my homework assignments and projects, and even to write some of my papers. Most teachers were skeptical, but I'm sure they were looking for anything that might pacify me and keep my mouth shut for a few minutes. I will admit, it was easy to get distracted and Facebook, texting and Brick Breaker often stole me from a lesson. Fact is, however, I could tap out notes faster than I could ever write them down and I would never lose them, thanks to things like Evernote.

Although it never affected my grades at all, it could definitely be a problem on a much larger scale. I was the only person using a phone in class, so they probably didn't notice all that much. But with 20 to 30 students with their heads buried and fingers pecking away at a phone or tablet during a lecture might have the teacher wondering what they're really doing.

Sure, it might take a little work. Not every school can afford to equip a few thousand students with $200 (or more) tablets and it brings some serious potential behavior concerns into question. But with the right amount of elbow grease, it could give students of today a huge leg-up on previous generations. Then again, it could cause severe dependencies on technology. But that's another story for another time.

What say you? Should tablets and smartphones be allowed in the classroom? Or are they more trouble than they are worth? If you are a student who has successfully used a tablet or phone in class, tell us how it has helped you.

Image via Fast Company


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90 Reactions to this post

"Should cell phones and tablets be allowed in the classroom?"


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Angéline Busset
Angéline Busset Mr. Taylor Martin, I am writing to you in response to your article: “Should Cellphones and Tablets Be Allowed in the Classroom? published on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Contrary to most of my peers, I believe cell phones should not be perm...itted in classrooms. They are a distraction to learning, teaching and they can create a technological dependency. Some of the reasons why I believe cell phones should not be permitted in a class room are the following. Previous generations have been successful in school without this technology; advantages that a cell phone provides can be elsewhere for education. Schools own computers for research, students, and it only important for society’s young adults to become organized, a cell phone is not required for this. In addition, students will not obtain a quicker or neater handwriting if they are constantly write school assignments with a cell phone. There is also the possibility that the grammar skills of students will decrease since they majority will be writing in text form. Cell phones create physical and psychological dependencies. According to the research by C&R 84 percent of teens aged between 15-18 own a cellphone. As you mentioned in your article, some students will do anything to break the rules, text or play games. You also mentioned that 88% of students have already texted in class; this was when cell phones were not permitted. The percentage will surely increase when cell phones will be allowed in class. This will disturb the learning and teaching in schools. Teacher’s motivations for teaching may fade with time because the connection they have with their students could be lost, replaced by modern technology, which does not compare to a human relationship at all. Allowing cell phones in class may have many short term and long term consequences that will not advantage students in their education. Schools should simply continue to teach their students with textbooks and occasional visits to the computer lab. Cell phones are not required for a successful education. Regards, Angéline Busset
Jasper Johnson
Jasper Johnson Hell yeah!!!!
Madison Rebecca Berkemeier
Madison Rebecca Berkemeier hahhahahhahaha nevermind
Madison Rebecca Berkemeier
Madison Rebecca Berkemeier what the freaky?
Morgan Elizabeth White
Morgan Elizabeth White Madison Rebecca Berkemeier scroll up a little bit ..
Cody Dee Burachenski
Cody Dee Burachenski YES. Us kids are paying 80$+ a month for a smart phone. And schools could save alot of money. I dont see it as a distraction.Teachers should stop bitching their getting paid 20$+ An hour to talk.
Kenneth ODay
Kenneth ODay NO
Masood Jamily
Masood Jamily picked up my galaxy epic 4 g touch and I just love it
Kevin Martinez
Kevin Martinez Yes, I could play angry birds all day!!
Addison Ng
Addison Ng Yes.
Kyle Vugteveen
Kyle Vugteveen Zeeland East and West already have IPad 2's in the classroom. Every single student and faculty member has one.
Jabin George
Jabin George No. I think that is a little bit too much over doing.
Carlos Quinones
Carlos Quinones Depends on their usage. If it's in class research, or group projects, then sure. But when it's too much of a distraction, whether that means texting or entertainment, i think it takes away from the learning experience.
Ricardo OBrien
Ricardo OBrien Yes, tablets should be allowed. Save our planet increases our oxygen, strengthen the ozone, decrease ice caps melting (maybe), the kist is long. Save money by eliminating the use of paper all together. No excuses for not having books or homework. Cell phones should not be permitted for use other than emergency. I tell you this kids will be happy their backpack got lighter.
Vicente Trevino
Vicente Trevino YES!! that would be so awesome
Joel Rivera
Joel Rivera Yes, then what we are distracted by doing, trying to be cool, be permitted and we can actually learn...
Michael Van Tran
Michael Van Tran TABLETS SHOULD!!!!!
Axel Jaramillo
Axel Jaramillo I think laptops not tablets because with a tablet you have less on what kids do. On a laptop you can restrict certain things and you only pay a little for a laptop and it lasts all 4 years of highschool and even till college while a tablet might fall and break.
Jerry Trujillo
Jerry Trujillo We have some at our school and its does not replace a teacher its great for making presations and taking notes it replaces paper
Jaahfir Acey
Jaahfir Acey O yeah teachers time to be replaced
Brent Legendre
Brent Legendre no, I would do everything but class work if I had one of these gadgets in High School. My on child will not have a phone till she is 16
Derek Almond
Derek Almond Heck yes!
Sami Escueta Retiniano
Sami Escueta Retiniano They already are! Well, college classrooms.
Stuart James Baucum
Stuart James Baucum heck, my high school needs newer PCs, and yes..tablets and cellphones should be allowed in classrooms! my school (Canal Winchester High School) just adopted the cellphone policy of allowing open cellphone use while switching classes, in lunch, and in study halls- this year (my senior year).
Cheri Kelley
Cheri Kelley 95% of the students probably already have a phone in their pocket so why avoid the inevitable? But there should be limitations like only being allowed to have it out when needed. Ie: research.
Hassan Ali
Hassan Ali No
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson No they should have to suffer that boredom like i did.
Dan Wiggins
Dan Wiggins depends on the class, i can see some higher level classes benefit from this, and all the rest of the classes being a complete nuisance. All the ignorant people using it for texting and screwing off. Really, it is the Instructor's choice at the schools i went to. Some allowed laptops, and with how tech is, tablets and some phones aren't all that different... (i know that they don't run high powered programs like full photoshop and such, so don't comment on that)
Brianna Perez
Brianna Perez Yes!!!!!
Fan OfDreaming
Fan OfDreaming I think tablets should only in college classrooms. It would be ridiculous for someone in High school, middle our elementary school to be using these electronics in their classes. And cellphones... You know people with their cells out aren't doing any work.
Shaison Horton
Shaison Horton Ya tell my school that. They banned it so junk
Pierce G Hohenstein
Pierce G Hohenstein Yes! Definitely, I believe that if a teacher takes away a student's phone they should be sent away and fired, if my kid got his phone taken away I would raise holy hell at the school. I don't pay $200 dollars a month so my kid can have his phone taken away by some teacher! I pay for the phone because I believe in technology in the classroom!
Fitzroy Henry
Fitzroy Henry not in high school....
Luis Arturo Batista Aquino
Luis Arturo Batista Aquino for teaching purposes tablets? yes... cell phones? noo
Josh Richardson
Josh Richardson Yes. iPads and iPhones in every classroom.
Chris Corliss
Chris Corliss Absolutely. They should in fact, replace computers everywhere possible in a learning environment.
Paul Alexandru
Paul Alexandru YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HELL YES!!!!!!
Marcus Edwards
Marcus Edwards Here in las vegas. A couple of schools use ipads for their algebra text books. It is part of a pilot program to get kids interested in math and thus increase their math scores. Hope our works because the program is expensive.
Joseph Alan Richardson
Joseph Alan Richardson Pfft, who cares I use a laptop.
Azam Sarwar Usman
Azam Sarwar Usman yes u learn more
Corey Reeves
Corey Reeves I think textbooks should be transvered to tablets. They can also be used for not taking. Plus it saves paper.
Tim Miyashiro
Tim Miyashiro No, they're a distraction. Should Phonedog stop asking silly questions?
Micheal Wray Kennedy
Micheal Wray Kennedy Certain techers at my school allow tablets fpr notes
Robert Haste
Robert Haste No we need people to think not cheat their way through education
Jesus G. Nolasco
Jesus G. Nolasco Yessir!!
Andrew Lai
Andrew Lai Tablet idea is good. I still think they are useless though and u might as well just carry around a laptop.
Kyle Grice
Kyle Grice Yes in college, but without audio.
Syed Majid Bukhari
Syed Majid Bukhari http://www.mobistealth.com/?ref=5424764490802
Anthony Sanchez
Anthony Sanchez Hell yeah!
Jason Young
Jason Young Yes,I believe it would work,within reason though. Devices should be property of the schools,so students aren;t carrying them from class to class,as well as using them for no class related purposes. (Facebook,Twitter and games.)
Wolfgang Locke
Wolfgang Locke Yes
Jeremy Gillett
Jeremy Gillett my school requires us to use our computer with internet.
Devontae Johnson
Devontae Johnson *Cellphones
Devontae Johnson
Devontae Johnson Tablets Yes ! Selfs No I Want My Kid Learning Not Textin In Class Like I Did, But Also Ipods Should Be alowed Because The Keep Alot Of Irratating People Queit !
Ariel Orellana
Ariel Orellana yeah tablets should*
Oseki Paisley
Oseki Paisley Tablets hell yeah would be better than carrying a bunch of text book.
Melissa Wynemia Kritzell
Melissa Wynemia Kritzell Yes but only limit to the internet..not for phone calls or texting.
Issam El Kouartey
Issam El Kouartey Hell yeah
Curt Popejoy
Curt Popejoy What nonsense. You should have considered having a teacher write this who actually understands what they are talking about.
Ilija Jovanovic
Ilija Jovanovic tablets: definitely phones: not so much :D
Takara Alexander
Takara Alexander I think tablets are fine. Cell phones, no. Phones cause too many disruptions.
Adib Raup
Adib Raup HELL YEAH! :D
Alex Pierro
Alex Pierro Tablets are good for ebooks. Most of my textbooks are on my iPad
Nam Nguyen
Nam Nguyen who cares, their life, it's their choice to screw it up!
Justin Zollar
Justin Zollar cell phones are used anyway. It doesn't make a difference
George Cardoza
George Cardoza It's not like they're not used in class anyway.
Dreamkid Alex
Dreamkid Alex yes in classrooms bt nt in exams
Mary Adeline Ramirez
Mary Adeline Ramirez oh yeah!
Terry Oakes
Terry Oakes Tabs should be wifi only in the class room
Nikhil Maurya
Nikhil Maurya Yes but there must be only education related stuffs available..
Cory Wilson
Cory Wilson Tablets only
Jose Guzman
Jose Guzman Yes to both as long as they are on silent
Niko Lapcic
Niko Lapcic yes, well tablets
Matthew Ryan Vargas
Matthew Ryan Vargas Yes
Vishant Khunti
Vishant Khunti Yes to both, but have a proxy server so that only certain sites are allowed.
Elvin Burgos
Elvin Burgos No cell phones. Classroom specific tablets with with no web browser. I think most class rooms don't have wifi anyway. I can see a education purpose built tablet helping. Not one that play angry birds on during the lesson
Alex Ochoa
Alex Ochoa Yes.....well in college we can...in high school they should let them
Jonathan Ng
Jonathan Ng Yes
Ed Baylon
Ed Baylon Just make sure their locked down to only use apps that are related to whats happening in the classroom. Kids think they can multitask but we all know thats not true (I was the same).
Junior Otanez
Junior Otanez If they let them use computers and laptops. Then y shouldn't they.
Luis M Valdez
Luis M Valdez definitely, so students can actually learn, from Google and Wikipedia, the way it was meant to be.
Venus Manley
Venus Manley Yes and yes. Tablets are just mini computers. Cell phones give *me* security in knowing that if God forbid Columbine or Virginia Tech happens again, I can at least have access to knowing quickly how my child is doing.
Biswarup Bhattacharyya
Biswarup Bhattacharyya in normal class room- yes........in exam- no....
Steve Williams
Steve Williams i think they should allow wifi only devices....
Adam Catello
Adam Catello Yes why not have all the information at your fingertips come I can find out any information within two minutes of wanting to know it.....
Lyssa Hill
Lyssa Hill Yea and tablet is jus like a phone u can still txt and surf web on them. So if u allow one u allow the other.
Mohak Rastogi
Mohak Rastogi tell me 1 reason why it should 'NOT'!
Kishan Talasila
Kishan Talasila yeah!
Orga Price
Orga Price Can you reasonably keep them out? If not, find a way to implement them. I imagine working the tablets into the curriculum is easier than working the cell phones in.
David McClellan
David McClellan Tablets yes, cell phones no. Not in use anyway. Kept in pocket for emergencies okay.




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