Hampton Township School District Personal Device Policy
BYOD Best Practices Blog Week 1
BYOD Best Practices Blog Week 2

Using Mobile Devices in The Classroom

As we begin to open our school networks to external devices and encourage students to pull out their cell phones and other mobile devices instead of putting them away, teachers are exploring new ways of using these tools to help students learn. Thi
s page highlights some of the web-based tools, apps and a growing list of best practices that can help teachers and students harness the power of pocket computing in an educational setting.

If you're still intent on keeping those cell phones tucked out of sight, or are even collecting them at the door at the start of class, you might want to read Why Mobile Is A Must or some of the resources at the bottom of this page. Also, since we are all preparing students for higher learning, take a look at these videos from Educause that capture some opinions from college educators:

Where To Start

While most of your students will have their own device that they are comfortable with, some students may not be so lucky to have a smart phone, or even a cellular phone. Pairing students can help solve this problem depending on the task you have in mind. Also keep in mind that for many of the text-based options below, standard text rates do apply, so students who do not have unlimited texting plans should be forewarned. Hampton HS teachers: there is also a class set of Ipods available for your use in full or in part to supplement your classroom needs.

Basic Uses for Any Mobile Device

These tools are accessible to anyone with a basic cell phone and may be a good place to start since many of your students might not have a smart phone or mobile device with web access.

  • Voice Recorder - Even the most basic cell phone has the ability to record messages. This could be used to record in or out of class interviews, small group discussions, and even basic podcasts. Students might even use this to record part of a class lecture, practice delivering a speech, etc. The file can then be played from the device or sent to a computer via email. See apps section below for more ways to do more sophisticated audio recording and podcasts.

  • Camera/Video - This tool could be used much in the same way as the voice recorder for capturing interviews in or out of class. Students could also use it to collect visual data of an assigned class topic (buildings with unique angles, pictures of a historic location in your neighborhood, samples of local foliage, various stages of a lab experiment, etc.). They could also use it to take pictures of notes or a diagram that is generated in class.

  • Calendars-- All cell phones have a built in calendar, but I'd bet most students have never touched it. Teach students how to use them to stay better organized by helping them set up class event dates and reminders.

  • Texting - There is no doubt that our students are expert texters, but do they know how to use this power for the greater good? Most likely not, but there are a few ways this might be beneficial to a classroom. Since this is one of the more feasible applications of cell phones, I'll bullet some potential ideas.
    • Send text reminders to classes, groups or even parents using an online service like Remind 101, or Celly that allows you to create groups without ever exchanging or plugging in phone numbers and send text reminders from your computer.


    • Have students text instant data in class using phone based survey tools like Polleverywhere or Wiffiti, a text to screen website.


    • Have students do basic research using Cha Cha or Google SMS. This allows even students without web-based devices to find quick information from a reliable source.

text a question to 242-242--works with almost any question like How do hurricanes form?


text a question to 466453 (google)--works best with simple queries like web Libya
See search tips and a real time simulation of this here
Note: These two sources are good for only very basic, quick response research as they pull mainly from Wikipedia and sometimes queries with Google do not return information with their suggested queries. Maybe it's a bug, but I haven't been able to get the "define" query to work correctly. I can get definition results using the "web" query.

Other Uses and Tools for Web Capable Devices

  • Screen_shot_2011-08-30_at_2.53.36_PM.pngPodcasts-- students can subscribe to hundreds of educational podcasts through Itunes U and other sources, or create your own by recording a class and uploading it to a class Wiki or podcast hosting website lite Podbean. They can also create sophisticated podcasts on their mobile device using audio editing apps like Hokusai or ISW recorder . They can even create their own study podcasts by using like Text To Speech which allows them to paste text and turn it into a spoken MP3 instantly that can then be downloaded onto a phone or ipod.
  • Screen_shot_2011-08-30_at_2.41.50_PM.pngVideo-- There are many free video edit apps like Video Edit, or pay ones like I Movie that allow students to shoot, edit and submit a video all from their smartphone.

  • Screen_shot_2011-08-29_at_9.52.30_AM.png
--Mobile Study is a website where you can create quizzes that students can download directly onto their phones using a QR code or other method

  • Screen_shot_2011-08-30_at_2.47.15_PM.png--You and/or your students can create web-based flashcards and review quizzes and games that are perfect for touch devices.

  • qrcode.1237840.pngQR Codes- using a website like Qrstuff.com, you can generate Smartphone readable codes that take students directly to a website, video, online document or text response. Students will need to have a QR reader app on their smartphone, or you can use the site Snapmyinfo to generate codes for non SMART phones with picture messaging capabilities. Try it! Use your Smartphone QR code reader (see App section below if you don't have one) to scan the code below for an article about how one science teacher has been using these.

Student Productivity APPS (Check back...this is only a start!)

QR Reader
Google Maps
File Sharing
RSS Feedburner
Screen_shot_2011-08-29_at_10.10.42_AM.pngGoogle Goggles-Works as a QR code reader, but also allows instant Google search by taking a photograph of a landmark, text or other image.

Further Reading:

The Innovative Educator -- a forward thinking blog with tons of ideas about cell phone usage in the classroom.
Why Mobile Is A Must - an argument that outlines the benefits and necessity of allowing mobile devices in the classroom.
"...these digital natives now have in their hands the tools to shape their own education in once unimagined ways. They have the ability to interact with other learners at their convenience, with differences in time and place presenting no hurdle. They can research, on the spot, any topic of interest. And they can capture the moment, whether it's in a picture, a video, or a blog entry."
From Distraction to Engagement: Wireless Devices in the Classroom - aimed at college professors, this article takes a look at how to better manage the use of mobile devices to eliminate disruptive behavior.
"Putting these devices in the hands of students can begin to increase active learning. When students are viewed as active participants in learning, distraction becomes much less an issue."
Using Mobile Phones to Improve Educational Outcomes: An Analysis of Evidence from Asia-research based article that reviews effectiveness of mobile learning pilots
"Mobiles, therefore, should impact educational outcomes by altering the character of education and learning because the nature of mobile technology converges with and facilitates new learning. The new learning is personalized, learner-centred, situated, collaborative, ubiquitous, and lifelong."
What Can You Learn From A Cell Phone? – Almost Anything!--An article from Mark Prensky, software designer credited with coining the term "digital native," that discusses what and how students can and should learn from their cell phones.
"...as U.S. educators are busy banning cell phones in schools, millions of students in China and Japan, the Philippines, and Germany are using their mobile phones (respectively), to learn English; to study math, health and spelling; and to access live and archived university lectures."
Ideas for Managing Cell Phones in the Classroom