Mobile Phones in the Classroom: do you use them as a teaching tool?

“Do you allow learners to record sessions on their phone, their very own dictaphone? #ukedchat or are phones #banned” @MoodleMcKean posed this question part way through tonight’s very productive #ukedchat on Twitter (weekly Thursday 8-9pm)

Ah, the mobile-phones-in-classroom battles I have fought this year!

“Carly, are you texting?”

“No, Miss.”

“Then exactly what are you fiddling with under your desk?!”

We have a policy that phones are switched off in school and out of the way. I’m sure many schools have similar. Largely it works, but we do have the odd pantomime every now and again with pupils who persist in checking phones/texting etc almost as if their lives depended on it.

So when I saw the question posed above, I was stumped!

Using mobiles productively in the classroom? What genius! Dictaphones… I’d never thought of them like that before. And yet it’s simple. Every one of my A Level group has a smartphone – they like to display them at every opportunity! – so why shouldn’t I encourage them to put them to good use?

I’ve pointed my GCSE class in the direction of the SHMOOP Literature study guides (a great iPhone app) and most of them downloaded the To Kill A Mockingbird guide. As one put it: “Handy for the bus, Miss.” Beyond that, I’ll confess, I haven’t really explored the potential of mobiles in the classroom.

Will this make my classroom more inclusive? Tonight’s #ukedchat topic was, after all, creating an inclusive classroom. Well, if I allow use of voice recorder/dictaphone facilities in my A Level classes, then it certainly may address the needs of those pupils who struggle with lengthy note-taking. And however we like to think pupils make that leap seamlessly from KS4 lessons to the more collegiate seminar-style of KS5 lessons, it isn’t easy for many. Note-taking is a skill that needs a lot of teaching.

So, using mobile phones as dictaphones: one small leap for some, potentially a giant leap for my school!

I look forward to giving it a go come September.