Smartphones are commonplace these days, so it’s no surprise that most school pupils have one of their own. It’s been reported that two-thirds of kids in the UK own a smartphone before they reach the age of 10.

Back when mobile phones were a newer invention with fewer capabilities, their use was typically banned within the classroom. However, with smartphones becoming more advanced and essential to our day-to-day lives, questions are coming up about whether phones may have advantages in the classroom. Here we’ll explore some of the benefits of allowing the use of smartphones in schools.

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Why allow smartphones in class?

Some might argue that social media and messaging apps mean smartphones are a distraction in school. While mobile phones do have the potential to cause a distraction, using them appropriately and setting some ground rules for how they’re used can make smartphones a valuable educational tool. Before permitting smartphone use in class, it’s important to understand the benefits of having them available.

Educational content

Smartphones with internet service give fast access to educational content. There are various benefits to educational apps. They enhance how young people learn, can make the experience more personalized to them, and in some cases, can make it more straightforward for teachers and parents to track a student’s progress. All of these factors can improve learning outcomes. Some apps can also create healthy class competition, which can again motivate pupils to learn.

Fast research

With access to the internet, smartphones allow students to research quickly or find answers to problems. Other apps, such as calculators and educational apps, can also be useful resources. When pupils work individually or in small groups on different projects, everyone can quickly find information that’s relevant to them and their work. Doing this is more challenging when pupils don’t have access to individual devices.

Being able to find information and answers quickly can help students to remain engaged with their work and can produce faster outcomes. It can also help young people to take ownership of their learning because they feel more in control.

Making kids comfortable

Today’s young people have grown up surrounded by technology and the internet, meaning they’re even more comfortable with these tools than previous generations. They see the benefits, too – in 2019, more than 80% of 11-17-year-olds surveyed said that technology had benefited them. Allowing young people to use the tools that feel familiar to them to support their learning can help them to feel confident and engaged in the classroom.

Some kids might be able to work more effectively with smartphones or tablets than when using books or other types of learning materials. Giving them access to the tools they work well with helps them to learn more effectively. For groups of students with different preferences, giving them a choice about the type of educational tools they use can help the whole class to learn effectively.

Suits different learning styles

Everybody has a unique learning style that affects how they best take in new information. There can be some overlap between the different learning styles because every student is an individual. The main seven types of learning styles are:

  • Visual – learn best by seeing visual materials
  • Aural – learns best by hearing information
  • Kinaesthetic – learns best by actively engaging in tasks
  • Verbal – learns best with written material
  • Logical – learns best with structured information
  • Solitary – learns best by working on their own
  • Social – learns best by working in a group

Smartphones allow access to a broad range of media and materials. This accommodates a variety of different learning styles. Devices can be used for group work as well as independent studying. Using smartphones as a tool makes it much easier to tailor learning to different learning styles than when only one teaching resource is available. This helps the whole group to learn more effectively.

Supports group work

Smartphones can encourage group work by supporting each individual to work on their contribution. It lets each member work using a method everyone in the group feels confident with. Social media, forums, and apps make it easier for group members to collaborate, share information, communicate, and work on projects. As well as supporting learning outcomes, this has the benefit of helping kids to develop their team-working skills.

How to use smartphones in the classroom

While smartphones have clear educational benefits, it’s important to set some rules about how they are used in school. This ensures that use stays appropriate and distractions are limited. This is our guide for how to use phones in class. Teachers and other classroom staff should follow this guide to set a positive example and encourage kids to respect the rules.

  • Define when it’s allowed to use smartphones in class and for how long
  • Explain which apps and tools are acceptable to use
  • Set guidance for how to communicate with others in the group using smartphones
  • Define the consequences of inappropriate smartphone use
  • Communicate this information clearly to the whole class

Enhanced learning with smartphones

Smartphones can be important tools for improved learning if they are used correctly. Understanding the advantages of smartphones for education can help you to decide how to use them effectively. Establishing clear guidelines for how to use smartphones and ensuring that this is implemented can be a real asset for a broad variety of students and help improve outcomes.