In general, Technology has made its way into higher education with the purpose of enhancing the teaching and learning experience for students and faculty as well.  Some technologies have been adopted faster than other and some other have failed and never made it to colleges and universities.  Among those that were quickly implemented are mobile devices.  However, there are many types of mobile devices, but we specifically want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of smartphone’s use in the classrooms by students.

Without any doubts, the smartphone is one of the most portable devices if not the most portable one and they are built with amazing features.  Its portability paired with some of its capabilities make it almost ideal to use it as a great tool in higher education.  It almost has constant web browser capabilities, fast internet access, and it support many of the most popular web browsers.  They are equipped with a calculator, calendar, GPS, video camera, music player, an actual operating system.  The latter allows for add-on applications, which extend smartphones functionalities.  Smartphones have tremendous capabilities, which make them suitable for a variety of uses and they keep getting smarter in every new version.

In the classroom settings, smartphones offer tremendous possibilities to enhance the learning process.

An EDUCAUSE survey conducted in 2014 indicates that 95% of the students surveyed own smartphones and 77% indicated they use it for learning purposes.  This survey clearly shows that smartphones are present in the classrooms and that administration does not need to invest in acquiring devices, but rather support it.  Students are already using their phones to access course syllabus, LMS, and checking grades among other activities.  Instructors could design interactive and engaging contents where students are required to use their phones to text the responses (Poll Everywhere) or use an apps that allow them to interact with the content (NearPod).

Smartphones are being used in Biology, Chemistry, Engineering and other fields already.  Smartphones have great potentials to enhance the learning process due to their computing capabilities.

On the other hand, smartphones pose disadvantages when allowed in higher education if specific and well-designed learning activities are not prepared.  They could be a big distraction for students since they could easily be constantly checking personal emails, social networks, or navigating non-class related websites.  Thus, they would not be paying attention to class content or discussions.  In this sense, students become too dependent on these devices to an extent where they no longer use their thinking abilities and to answer simple questions, they grab the cell phones.  Frequently texting and answering unimportant calls may also affect other students from concentrating during class time.  The many capabilities of smartphones may also not be a great teaching tool since it interferes with student learning behavior.

To conclude, smartphones are owned by the great majority of students and they offer amazing capabilities to students and teacher equally.  There are many great tools at the fingertips of students to enhance the teaching and learning process, but at the same time, the very same tools could represent enormous distractions and have negative impact on students.  Smartphones are great in itself, but how they are used in classrooms settings shouldbe thought and designed carefully in order to achieve positive results at all times.

Sources

Morgan, Kori. “The Pros & Cons of Cell Phone Usage in College.”Education. Web. 25 July 2015. <http://education.seattlepi.com/pros-cons-cell-phone-usage-college-1578.html>.

“Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu.” Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu. 22 June 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/students-mobile-learning-practices-higher-education-multi-year-study>

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Kelly, Rhea. “Study: Smartphones Detrimental to Learning for First-Time Users — Campus Technology.” Study: Smartphones Detrimental to Learning for First-Time Users — Campus Technology. Campus Techology, 7 July 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/07/07/study-smartphones-detrimental-to-learning-for-first-time-users.aspx?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Education Dive: Higher Ed&utm_campaign=Issue: 2015-07-08 Higher Ed Education>.

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