According to the recent research from the University of Hafia, 95% of high school students are using Cell Phones at School. Many schools have been debating on the usage of cell phones in school, students use cell phones in various ways, i.e ; to surf the internet, to access social networks like facebook.com and twitter.com , to stream videos on Youtube and so much more. Instead of fighting the battle of banning cell phones in schools, I suggest teachers and school administrators should find ways of integrating cell phones in schools for educational purposes.

Every student can own a cell phone at school, because they’re affordable and easy to carry compared to laptops or tablets. Below I have listed some 25 creative ways to use cell phones in schools for academic purposes.  

  1. 1.       Use Cell Phones as Reminders: Students tend to use diaries to note down important dates and assignments, however, this diary can get lost at any time, if not, a student can easily forget what they wrote in a diary. Cell phones can be used as reminders; teachers can use bulk text messaging services like Remind101.com to send text messages to remind their students about an exam or assignment. Also cell phones come with a built-in diary which can be set to remind a student about a specific task at a given time.
  1. 2.       Use Cell Phones For Research Purposes: Most schools have computer labs where student go to make research online, however, it can be inconveniencing for students, because in most cases the computers in the lab are never enough and the competition for computers is always high. It can also be expensive to provide a computer to each and every student at school, so the best option is to use cell phones as research tools. All smart phones can access internet, so teachers can group students and assign them research work, if students work as a group, they will stay on track.
  1. 3.       Use cell phones to take polls in the classroom: You can easily know the response of your students on a specific subject using cell phone polls. One of the best polling system is polleverywhere.com , it’s instant and affordable. Teachers you can get your classroom’s attention on instant with Polleverywhere, it is compatible with most mobile devices. It is the best way of keeping students engaged and it also gives a chance to a shy student to participate in a classroom debate. To make polls interesting, you can segment your students and have them compete against each other; the competition can be open so that they can see who won in real time. See video below on how Polleverywhere works:

  1. 4.       Use cell phones to share educational material: Students can easily use cell phones to take pictures or videos in the field with other students at school. For example, Geography students can take pictures or record videos while in the field carrying out a geography research, let’s say, they go to study features of a volcanic mountain, a student can take pictures of various features and activities on that volcanic mountain, and then they can share those pictures or mini clips with their fellow students at school in real time.
  1. 5.       Use cell phones for audio & video lessons: Teachers can record instructions in video format or audio format, and then upload these recordings to a classroom blog or school website. Students with smart phones can easily access a classroom blog via the internet and download these recordings which they can play at anytime of the day. This practice can save teachers time and it also promotes mobile learning. Students can feel comfortable if they learn via their cell phones, because they can be in position to play back the audio or video until they understand the concept being explained by their educator.
  1. 6.       Use cell phones as Gamification tools at School: Teacher you will agree with me, that integrating games in the classroom can boost a student’s interest in learning. For example, you can tell your students to download and install ”Seek ‘n Spell” mobile application; this App can challenge your student’s mind and brains which will keep them attentive both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.

So how does ”Seek ’n Spell” work?

Seek ’n Spell uses your cell phone GPS to create new games for your students basing on the surroundings at school. It gathers virtual letters and it creates words which can be used to challenge players of the game.  Try out Seek ’n Spell here 

  1. 7.       Use Stop Watches on Cell Phones in a science classroom: During a science experiment, students will need to use stop watches in the laboratory, most chemicals or experiments will react at a given time, so it is better for each student or group to have a stop watch. So if you’re a science teacher and your school has very few stop watches for your science classroom, then opt for stop watches on student’s cell phones. Smart phones like iPhone have good digital stop watches which can start or reset on instant.
  1. 8.       Use Cell Phones for Video Conferencing at School: This can sound wired, but a teacher can a cell phone which has video conferencing application like SKYPE to consult another teacher or educator on a specific subject, this discussion can be streamed on a smart white board using Blue-tooth technology and all students can learn from this video conference call. During this video call, students can have a chance to ask question to that expert or educator and this will help them learn more about a specific subject. Also students can create virtual discussion groups using Skype; this can help them share educational ideas while using their cell phones.
  1. 9.       Use Cell Phones to learn new languages: Your students can easily learn new languages using advance mobile language applications like BABBEL. It is very easy to use Babble, a student will simply paste the content they want to translate, and then select a language they’re interested in, and Babble will translate that text to a student’s favorite language. Both teachers and students can use Babble to learn any language, some of the languages you can learn on Babble include; Italian, Swedish, Polish, Indonesian, English, Turkish, Dutch, German, French and much more.  Babble mobile App comes with an integrated speech recognition tool which a student can use to test their pronunciation. Download Babbel App from here 
  1. 10.   Use Cell Phones as Calculators: It does not matter if your cell phone is expensive or not, every cell phone has a calculator with basic features. Students can use a calculator in math and physics classroom. Cell phone calculators can be used to solve simple equations in the classroom.
  1. 11.   Use cell phones to scan text books: All smart phones come have cameras, so students can use those cameras to scan and bookmark important pages in text books, bookmarking services like Evernote.com can be used to store these bookmarked scanned pages and students can easily search for these bookmarks. So this is what a student has to do:

Step 1: Take a picture of any text or diagram in a text book.

Step 2: Use the Evernote app to save the scanned page.

Step 3: Make sure you name each document you save so that it becomes easy for you to search for them.

Get Evernote App from here: 

  1. 12.   Use Cell Phones as Digital Storytelling tools:  I own a samsung smart phone which can record mini audio clips and videos, literature students can find this feature very important, they can record audio speeches by recording most interesting poems and share them with friends online. You can spice up your stories with pictures or video clips recorded using your cell phone.
  1. 13.   Use Vernier Video Physics App for Cell Phones: Physics students can take advantage of Vernier Video Physics App to take a picture or video of an object in motion, mark its position frame by frame, and then set up the scale using a known distance. This Video Physics will draw trajectory, position, and velocity graphs for the object. Try out Video Physics; it is great for both physics students and instructors. Get Video Physics for iPhone here: 
  1. 14.   Use Cell Phones as E-reader Tools: Most smart phones like iPhone 5 have big storage space of about 30GB; students can easily download e-books online and store them on their cell phones. Most of these smart phones have wide touch screens which can enable a student to read downloaded e-books, or read full text websites like Wikipedia.
  1. 15.   Use cell phones as dictionaries at School: Students or teachers can use cell phones to text Google definitions system using their cell phones. Many times we don’t go with our dictionaries in the classroom, but a cell phone is always with us. If you have no internet access in your classroom or cell phone, then you can you can text the term you want to be defined to 466-456, then wait for a while, Google will text you back with a correct definition of that term.
  1. 16.   Use cell phones as Timers at School: You can create a text book reading competition in your classroom, let students form reading groups and give each group a paragraph or sentence to read and explain. But to make this interesting, you can judge them by time and accuracy. So you can use an iPhone timer with an alarm, when the time is over, the horn will make a sound. This is a just an example, as a teacher you can use timers in so many creative ways.
  1. 17.   Create SMS based Chat Rooms for students using a cell phone: Services like Groupme.com can allow you to create a discussion group and communicate with your fellow students using SMS messaging. Encourage your students to create virtual discussion groups and exchange educational information in real time, this move can also help shy students because they can set fake profile names to join any group, students can even share photos or share locations with friends. Groupme App is for free and it works on most smart phones, you can have as many groups as you want. Download Groupme App from here 
  1. 18.   Use tumblr as a classroom blog platform: Your students can easily take pictures while in the field and upload them on Tumblr classroom blog, other students in the field or classroom can post comments on these pictures taken from the field. Students can also write text on these photos to describe various features in the photo. Get Tumblr app for your cell phone from here
  1. 19.   Use Study Boost App for Cell Phones at School: Study Boost App is an instant messaging which allows both students and teachers to study and review questions in real time. Students can have a chance to study with instant messaging and text messaging. Teachers who have always been asking how they can integrate mobile learning technology in their classrooms, i suggest you try out Study Boost Mobile Application. For students with unlimited texting plan, you can be in position to use StudyBoost for free. But students outside USA, you will pay a small fee to benefit from this service. Students and Teachers, try out StudyBoost from here
  1. 20.   Use ChaCha at school to help your students get answers on hot questions:  Chacha is a community based Question and Answers platform which will help your students get real time answers on just about anything while in the classroom. Students can use their cell phones to text a question to 242-242, Chacha does not charge for this service, but you will need a full time text messaging plan to benefit from this service. Get Chacha mobile app from here
  1. 21.   Use cell phones as blogging tools at school: Try out phone casting applications like iPadio.com to enable your students to broadcast live to the web from their cell phones. Students can easily broadcast audio messages and share them with their classmates. Also blogging platforms like Blogger & WordPress can be used on cell phones. As a teacher, you can create a classroom blog which uses a responsive theme which can be accessed well on all mobile phones, so your students can post comments or discussions on that classroom blog using their cell phones.
  1. 22.   Use Junaio Mobile App to make research or access academic information on instant: For those who don’t know Junaio, it is an augmented reality browser for mobile phones. You can also use Junaio to unlock augmented content on images and objects and play games or experience virtual interactions. The tool is not developed as an educational technology, but any creative teacher can take advantage of its features and use them for educational purposes.
  1. 23.   Use cell phones to go paperless in your classroom: Teachers can reduce on the use or papers in their classrooms by integrating cell phones in the learning and teaching process. Ipad apps like markup can be used to mark student’s exam paper, so teachers can assign exams or tests using cell phones and each student can submit their work via email, then the teacher can mark these tests using a Markup App for iPad.
  1. 24.   Use Cell Phones to Preserve Lectures: Smart phones like iPhone 5 can shoot and record video, so you can record the all lecture in video format, then share this lessons with students who missed attending class on that day. These videos can be shared across video hosting platforms like Vimeo.com & Youtube.com, so students can easily access these lessons from anywhere. As a teacher, you can create a classroom Youtube channel and upload all lectures. It is a good idea if you create a Youtube classroom channel, because your students will always go to that channel for further studies.
  1. 25.   Use Cell Phones to Take Attendance at School: Many times students dodge lessons or school and attend non educational activities, if this behavior is not well monitored, it can affect student’s grades at the end of the term. Teachers can use GPS Location Tracker App to track locations of each and every student, also parents can use the same app to know if their children are attending school or not. Download GPS Location Tracker by FollowMee  from here

In conclusion, this is a summarized list on ways cell phones can be used at school, teachers and educators who think that cell phones are distracting devices at school, you should skip that and find better ways of using cell phones in schools. To help us scale more ways of using cell phones in school, please contribute by suggesting more creative ways cell phones can be used in schools, simply use the commenting form below.

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