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A 2014 Harris study, released by Pearson, showed that 44 percent of elementary school students, 58 percent of middle school students and 75 percent of high school students regularly use smartphones. A similar study found that 83 percent of college students use smartphones on a regular basis as well. What’s more, tablet usage is also up: 66 percent of elementary students, 58 percent of middle school students, 42 percent of high school students and 45 percent of college students are regularly using them.

It may not come as a surprise that these numbers have steadily climbed in recent years and you can likely bet this trend will continue. In fact, most students surveyed indicated they would like the use of mobile devices in the classroom to increase. And students at all grade levels agreed that tablets make learning more fun, help them do better in school and aid in customizing their learning experience.

Armed with this knowledge, educators can tap into these tools as another means to create an engaging learning environment. Here are some ideas on using mobile devices in the classroom.

Using smartphones and tablets as learning tools

So many students are connected via smartphones and tablets. Instead of telling your class to put their devices away, harness this energy for good. Here’s how:

  • Generate polls: Looking to test your students’ knowledge on a subject prior to an upcoming test? Try a mobile poll. There are countless apps, such as Poll Everywhere or Socrative that can be used to gauge your entire classes’ current level of subject matter comprehension—in real time. No more handing out pop quizzes and manually grading them. Instead, simply poll, instantly review results and utilize class time to fill in the gaps.
  • Use quick response (QR) codes: QR codes can provide an engaging and active learning experience. Produce a QR code scavenger hunt to test how savvy your class is on a subject. Simply develop your Q&A, print off QR codes for each question and distribute them around the school. Then divide students into teams and let the games begin. The first team to complete the hunt with the most correct answers wins. Reward them with a school logo’d tablet sleeve or phone case.
  • Utilize video conferencing: Video conferencing apps, such as FaceTime® or Skype®, can help your students become global learners. Use these tools to teach students about other cultures or to take foreign language pen pals to a new level—perhaps by pairing students up with learners from another country. Or assign your students to conduct a video interview with a scientist, historian or author rather than doing a book report. Video conferencing also presents the opportunity to teach students the importance of adding a personal touch to what some perceive as an impersonal method of communicating. Encourage students to send video interviewees a token from home. Consider thanking them with a school logo’d stylus, phone stand or Media Charging Station. And make sure students send a handwritten note of thanks to interviewees for their valuable time.
  • Use online access: Smartphones and tablets provide students the opportunity to make the most of every minute. Encourage your class to use those last five minutes before the bell rings or the extra time they have after finishing a test ahead of the rest of the class to study. Whether they watch an instructional video, conduct some research or polish their math skills with an interactive game, it will be time well spent.

No longer are smartphones and tablets a nuisance in the classroom. Rather, they are tools to be reckoned with. Tap into these gems to engage and enhance your students’ learning experiences.

“Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2014.” Pearson. N.p., 09 May 2014. Web. Retrieved 13 Jan. 2015.

Graham, Edward. “Using Smartphones in the Classroom.” National Education Association. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Jan. 2015.

“QR Treasure Hunt Generator!” www.classtools.net. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Jan. 2015.

Yaremich, Marissa. “5 ways teachers can use tablets in the classroom.” University of Phoenix. Phoenix Forward Magazine, n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Jan. 2015.

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