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Smashing Mobile Phones

Popularity 1Viewed 3842 times 2018-1-26 06:12 |Personal category:Education|System category:News

Recently, there was a news article about a school in eastern China that was taking the students' cellphones and smashing them to pieces. Destroying something that cost their parents a lot of money. Destroying something that could be used to advance education in an amazing way.

I was contacted by a well known international news organization and asked to weigh in on this action and write a series of articles for them. The exact question was, 'How can cellphones be used to educate students?' I knew there must be a way. You don't prove yourself a good teacher by your ability to destroy something of value. You prove yourself as a good teacher when you possess the ability to take technology and use it to better educate children. They basically said, 'Name your price, but please give us your understanding of how this can be done.' I left the fee that wanted to pay up to them. I went to work on research.

What I found was, more than 60% (some studies say as high as 80%) of teachers in America encourage students to use their cellphones as a study tool. In fact, most of those teachers use the cellphones in the classroom.


I found several apps that do a very effective job in aiding children to learn better and faster. I found that on the American Apple App Store, there are literally hundreds of such apps. All of which are quite popular.

After downloading and reviewing a few dozen of the most popular apps, I found that is the best for utilizing cellphones in the classroom. In fact, their entire array of features are quite amazing.

First, they have a flashcard type platform that a teacher can easily use in place of using a PPT. It has the flip feature of what you'd expect from flashcards. The teacher can use this in classroom presentations and lectures. Once a 'study set' (deck of flashcards) has been created, the teacher can use it as an impressive presentation tool. Then, the same 'study set' that the teacher created can directly be used by the students for homework or further study/learning. There is also a 'learn' feature that is very powerful which the student can utilize for study.

Another amazing feature is that the teacher defined flashcards (the teacher creates these from their own lessons, materials, pictures, videos, etc.) can be turned into a game. Now 'games' and 'learning' have, in the past, been perceived as being mutually exclusive of one another. In this case, the game that the student plays consists of the material that the teacher presented in the class. An extremely powerful tool for further study and learning.

A third feature is the 'test' feature. The test feature allows the teacher to create exams automatically from the materials he/she has taught. The program will create multiple choice, fill in the blank and matching questions for the exam. The teacher does nearly nothing except define these parameters along with telling the program how many questions they desire for the exam. This feature does the rest. The exams can be taken online or they can be printed and taken in the traditional way. If the exam is taken online, the program will score the program for the teacher.

A fourth feature that has been thoroughly proven as a powerful learning tool is what they call Quizlet Live! This is where students use their cellphones to go to a URL (, enter a six digit passcode provided by the teacher and their name to identify them in the game that follows.

Quizlet Live! will take the names of the students and divide them into teams. Students will get up and sit together with the team that program assigns them to. They will get 8-12 questions that are randomly chosen by the program from the flashcard/presentation materials that the teacher has created. Each student will see the question and four possible answers on their cellphone/mobile device. If a team has 3 team members, there will be 12 possible answers. Out of the 12 possible answers, only one of the answers is the correct one. So, it requires the students to work together as a team. Everyone must be involved in finding the right answer. If a team answers 5 of the 12 questions correct consecutively and then gives the wrong answer to question 6, their score goes back to 0 and they start over. These are very powerful features which literally force the student to learn material that was created by the teacher.

The problem with cellphones in school is more of whether the teacher is innovative enough to use the cellphones for maximum effectiveness in teaching and learning. Students are going to bring cellphones to school regardless of 'rules' against them doing it. Teachers and educators can continue to destroy (smash) the cellphones angering parents and destroying something that they could be using to teach and which is more effective than anything they've ever done to try to improve their teaching effectiveness and classroom experience.

Cellphones and mobile devices aren't going away. Students aren't going to quit bringing them to school regardless of the repressive actions of uninformed teachers. The best that educators and teachers can do is discover ways (like using Quizlet) to advance learning and improve education in the world.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report Swifty55 2018-2-8 01:13
No one should destroy other property. But maybe 10% of students in the USA use them to learn. Can lead a horse to water but can not make them drink it. Same with computers. Can tell them they should but 90% or more willl not.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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