As a teacher doesn’t it just drive you nuts when you see students on their cell phone instead of paying attention to a class you worked hard to prepare? Feel like confiscating every cell phone at the beginning of class? Check out a few of our thoughts on how you can turn a cell phone into an extremely strong tool for teaching:
Whether you’re a teacher by profession or passion (or both) there are few things that can drive teacher nuts quite like a student who’s texting their friends during a lesson, then asking for help later because they weren’t paying attention. As a graduated Royal Canadian Air Cadet instructor, I can personally tell you this drove me absolutely nuts. The hard work I put into trying to help each and every cadet become the best they could be was absolutely a two-way street. If they didn’t want to help themselves, there wasn’t much I could do for them.
Now, I could talk about teaching, leadership, instruction, and all that good stuff but since you’re reading the blog of iOS and Android Developers you’re likely here to see how exactly apps can make a difference in your classroom.
The science behind the cell phone
Now you’ll likely argue that most activities on a cell phone take away from the lesson and are usually seen as distracting. So why do people spend so much time on their phones? To state it bluntly, learning things is way harder than being spoon fed information you can see, hear and feel.. the medium is much more interesting and how it’s delivered is waaaaay easier than your lesson. Roughly 80% of millennials own cell phones with that number growing daily, so cell phones aren’t going anywhere, so if you can’t beat em… why not join em?
How to use cell phones in a learning environment
So obviously cell phones aren’t going anywhere, so you can either try to change the world back to the good old days or adapt to how the world changes (conformity is not overrated 😉 ) so what are some things you can do to take advantage of cell phones?
1. Pre Recorded Lessons
Imagine if you recorded your lessons and made them accessible online. Your students would be able to consult it for help/reference, skip and focus on parts they are struggling with, and catch up in case they missed the lesson. You could even use it as reference for helping students quickly (eg. skip to 1:53 when we discuss ___ ). This can also be a stepping stone to teaching self-help, rather than asking you for all the answers, students are able to consult with pre-recorded lessons and better target what it is they are struggling with. Incorporate this with classroom time and you now have a simple yet effective tool for students, instead of just a distracting cell phone.
2. Push Notifications – the right way!
“Your app is ready to update” “check out this sale” “____ has sent you a message” are all examples of notifications you will see on a daily basis. People will scramble for their phones the second they make any sort of noise or vibration. So what if you could use that annoying notification to your advantage. Set up a homework reminder! Use notifications to alert students as to what homework is due soon, or any changes made in their homework schedules. Alert them to days off, changes in schedule, sick days, and holidays as they become relevant. My college used to send me all sorts of texts and notifications to my phone and honestly, I didn’t mind it. It kept me up to date on school news on a device I use daily.
3. Collaborative Classroom
One of the biggest things that drive a teacher nuts is when students text and browse social media during a lesson. But did you know that 70% of students want their lessons were as simple to follow as their social media feeds and text messages? Why not try a collaborative classroom technology? While the lesson is ongoing or completed, you can set up a collaborative classroom for students to message each other and post statuses regarding the lesson. I know that I personally could not have graduated college if it weren’t for my fellow classmates and friends (Ethan if you’re reading this… Thanks man!). Seriously though, a collaborative classroom allows students to help each other, for the instructor (you) to assist students and focus on changing, fixing, and focusing on certain items in your curriculum.
4. Relevant Information NOW
Perhaps not something to be used DURING class but still a great idea nonetheless is using an app to communicate relevant information regarding school functions. A school app could provide times for the local school games, weather reports, school news, lunch menus, and more! You could also provide an alert for any sort of safety hazards such as a chemical spill, alerts for lockdowns, and fire safety notifications. More than 68% of students said that if there was a way to communicate with faculty through an app regarding bullying or violence, rather than finding a staff member, they would use it in a heartbeat. If students believe this sort of technology will help, does it not make sense to give them the tools to do it? This sort of app would be incredibly easy and affordable, after all, we have our fair share of local iOS and Android Development experience under our belts.
I could keep going but I think you’re starting to get the idea. Once you stop hating on cell phones and start embracing their possibilities, it begins to open up a new way we can teach. If you feel I’ve missed anything here and would like to make your own educational app then please visit the Contact section of the site. We would love to sit down with you and hear how your idea can help students learn better, think smarter, and be safer! As mobile app developers, we know we won’t disappoint your vision.