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A Student's Take: Why Cellphone Use at School is a Great Idea

October 01, 2015

There’s been a lot of talk recently – and even a study – on the use of cellphones in school. Many of the arguments made have been against the use of phones, claiming that banning them will help students learn. As a student, however, I’ve seen firsthand the ways that cell phones and other mobile devices can be used to benefit students in school. If mobile devices are used correctly in classes and in education, they can increase student understanding and interest in the material they are required to learn.

The different apps and tools that are available for mobile devices can give students a personal and creative approach to their learning. For me, using Notability to make interactive and colorful study guides for my classes at school helps me comprehend the material in a fun way. In the app, I can record information, doodle helpful diagrams, record my voice, and insert pictures from the Internet. Using this app has improved my ability to comprehend what I learn in class, resulting in higher grades on tests and assessments.  

We should empower students to get the most out of their education by allowing them to decide whether or not they want to use their phones and mobile devices in class. We are already so well adapted to using the Internet and our phones that, for many, using these tools for our education is a natural next step. Being able to access the Internet in class has allowed me to look up the meaning of words for English, view word translations in Spanish, or see a different explanation about the topic I’m learning in math.

Students are often categorized as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, and technology can be a way for students to utilize the ways they learn best. Visual learners can stream videos and look up diagrams, auditory learners can use recording tools or listen to podcasts, and kinesthetic learners can engage in interactive game-based activities.

As with anything, there can be inappropriate use. Blasting a video in class or tweeting when you are supposed to be listening is rude behavior that students will have to learn to abstain from – just as they learn not to yell out in class or fall asleep during a lesson. Restless or disorderly behaviors are not new, students are just carrying them out differently. We still need teachers to help us learn content and behavior.

It doesn’t take students long to realize that if they are on their phone texting and tweeting during class, they aren’t ascertaining the information they need for assessments and projects. In my history class last year, my teacher, Ms. Gallagher, had us use our mobile devices in class. During class, texts occasionally came in from some of my friends, and I found that when I stopped paying attention and replied to the messages, I would often miss an instruction or a piece of information that I needed. That quickly taught me that in order to be successful while using my device, I had to focus on the schoolwork, not catching up with my friends.

Some claim that cell phones are a distraction and should be banned from school, but they are forgetting about all the ways cell phones can customize our learning experience. By asking students to find effective ways to use their device, students are able to maximize what they learn, improving their education.

Another app that is very beneficial to me is a flashcard app called StudyBlue. Once I go through the deck, I can go back through the ones I got wrong and review until I get them right. I like this because it helps me focus on the information that is hardest for me and get the most out of my time. Using the app allows me to learn how I like to learn, rather than how I’m taught the information, which is so much more beneficial.

When it comes down to it, technology is what you make of it. If teachers and students work together as I have seen at my school, they can utilize technology to improve their educational experience. Technology has helped me and I know it has the potential to help my fellow students.

Megan Catalano is a junior at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, Massachusetts. She is passionate about using technology to help her do well in school and is a founding member of her school’s Rockets Help Desk, a student-driven technology integration program in her district.