We surveyed 135 7th graders about smartphones. Most kids had them. Although school doesn’t have any BYO.. program, many kids are using their phones for school-related uses – checking homework, research, notes, dictionary, calculators, math practice, watching educational videos. About half the kids have Google accounts. About half the kids have Facebook accounts, but these aren’t necessarily the kids with Google accounts.
Androids were popular. Several kids had iPods and Android phones. Most kids are permitted to add apps to their phones. A few required parental permission or help, especially if there was a charge for the app. For the most part, kids reported figuring out how to use apps on their own or with friends. A few even admitted to reading the help. For the apps that they use, kids are pretty self-sufficient or rely on peer support.
Most agreed that they would like to use their smartphones for school. They suggested additional uses, too. Music, band practice recording, cameras to capture notes, class whiteboard information, field trips, project records, portfolios of art work. Some teachers are using Edmodo and that was well liked.
Teachers and administrators are missing out on a good thing. These seventh grades had lots of good ideas for engaging in their learning using their smartphones. Although not everyone had a smartphone, there were enough available to include smartphones in teaching and learning. This does necessitate wifi or cell coverage, direction and payment for apps that are not free, parental permission, and creative solutions for sharing and/or school provided devices or internet access. There are bound to be some bumps and mis-steps but these kids have some great ideas and are very interested in the opportunities smartphones offer to self-directed learning.