It is hard to imagine the world without technologies. People stay connected with one another constantly via phone line or Internet, by using cell phones, laptops, tablets, or any other devices that might be invented in the nearest future. This leap of technology has happened in a very short period of time. People who are in their 30ies now have to learn to use computer , and those who are in their teens own their first cell phone already; people who are now in high school have entered the world of technologies at much earlier age. The children of today are born into the technological world. Before they speak, they learn how to use a smartphone or a tablet. Therefore, it is not surprising that the question of the use of the modern technologies for educational purposes is a common one. Modern teenagers go everywhere with their smartphones and tablets, including classrooms. Some teachers ban the use of smartphones in classrooms, while others are thinking of the ways of using these wireless devices for educational purposes. The arguments like “annoyance of random ring tones going off during school” (Hennessy) meet those of the simplification of tasks and processes. It is true that cell phones might be destructing for students and their surrounding; however, for the modern-day teenagers, they are essential elements of the learning process if approached properly.
The major disagreement on the issue of smartphone use in a classroom between school kids and teachers might concern the fact that the two groups come from different generations – age-wise and technology-wise. The majority of teachers have met technologies when they were adults, thus a large part of their life was without a non-stop connectedness. Teachers have studied in environments with insignificant technological level and know all about it. At the same time, modern teachers deal with students born in technologically advanced world. These students cannot imagine the world without free access to the Internet and the multiplicity of applications that can simplify one’s life. As a result, modern teachers and students are separated as never before. The age gap is increased by the technological one. Many teachers still believe that technologies bring more distraction than help in the process of learning. The editor of the article “Smartphones Do Not Benefit Classroom Learning” has shown the negative or insignificant positive impact of technologies in a classroom (4). However, one should not ignore the fact that both editors and researchers were born in the world different from the one of the modern teenagers and thus have a different approach to technological advancement and technologies as a whole. Before forming any opinions on the way technologies influence the lives of the modern teenagers, both teachers and researchers might need to understand the place smartphones and other devices have in the world perception of teenagers. Moreover, instead of claiming that place to be wrong, one should be more tolerant and understanding and call it different.
One of the main arguments against the use of smartphones in a classroom is that they distract from learning. It is true that “texting, tweeting, surfing and updating your online profile have nothing to do with learning and no place in classroom” (“Smartphones Do Not Benefit Classroom Learning” 4). There should be no distraction in the classroom. Nevertheless, throughout the history of schools all around the world, children have always found something that would be more interesting than class and thus would distract them from the learning process. The argument about the destruction caused by smartphones would be true if up until now youths were fully focused during class and after the introduction of wireless devices have immediately lost interest in their studies. Before cellphones, there were various games, magazines, doodling, daydreaming; instead of being transferred wirelessly, messages were thrown around the class on little sheets of paper. The actual question is not in the loss of attention by children, but in the ongoing inability of teachers to attract students to their subject and class. According to Sam Evans-Brown, students who are actively engaged in class tend to be less destructed and much less search for some other things on their phones (n.p.). One would agree that it is easier to blame something or someone (cell phones, pop music, rock music, etc.) for destructing young generation than try a bit harder to attract students and keep them interested. By stating that “technology will never replace the timeless need for skilled teachers” (“Smartphones Do Not Benefit Classroom Learning” 4), Espejo does not, in fact, make an argument against smartphones in the classroom (although that is his main intention). This is still an argument for good teachers who are capable of engaging their students in the educational process.
It was already stated that smartphones in a classroom can simplify the educational process, but it was not mentioned that it is true for both students and teachers. In the article “Using Smartphones (and other PDAs) in Class: These Days, It’s Cool!”, Hennessy suggests multiple ways in which their use in classroom can simplify learning. Some of the proposed ways are very good: smartphones allow keeping track of schedules and dates; they enable one to access Internet for proper referencing; applications like Evernote or ResponseWare can simplify the classroom work, etc. With the variety of applications on cellphones and their constantly increasing amount, it is possible to find more than one app suitable for each class or even each task. There is no doubt that smartphones made both personal and professional lives of adults easier, thus there is a question – why cannot it be the same for schoolchildren? Hennessy notes the gap between technological advancement of children and teachers and understands that the smartphones use in class involves teachers as well. Thus, he provides a number of ways in which teachers can utilize these devices in their work, for example, for “obtaining virtually instant assistance to solve problems, whether in-class or on a more strategic level, and having potential solutions vetted by a trusted group of cohorts” (Hennessy). Teachers can seek advice through wireless networks as well as establish professional relations with their colleagues from different parts of the country. By sharing experience and knowledge, teachers can improve their relationships with students as well as advance their own educational capabilities. Examples presented above show just a few ways in which smartphones can be used by students and teachers for mutual benefits.
In conclusion, there is an ongoing debate about the use of smartphones in a classroom. The majority of adults (teachers, parents, researchers) are still against the introduction of smartphones as additional learning tools. Although, there are also proponents of the implementation of wireless devices, and they are as influential as the Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty (“Smartpones Do Not Benefit Classroom Learning” 4). With the growing support of the use of smartphones in a classroom, the modern schoolchildren might soon be able to use their favorite devices for educational purposes, which could be a great step forward in the modern education. Teachers can also significantly benefit from the use of smartphones in classrooms despite the current lack of interest of the majority of educators in wireless devices. The use of smartphones in classrooms can be of great benefit as it has already improved the business world. It is important to remember that children, who were born in the world of modern technologies, would not be interested in education that takes them out of this world.