Mobile phones in the classroom? The answer is yes!

(NOTE: I'm just going through some of my old blog posts, and I realized I had this one stored in the DRAFTS folder. Since I went through this debate with some students last year, I thought it might be interesting to bring this one back.) 

Once upon a time, I hated it when students brought their cellphones to class. Ten years ago, if students brought their phones to class, it was only for two reasons: a) because they were scared of their manager and had a difficult job where they needed to be available all the time, whether they wanted to be or not; or, more likely b) because they really believed that a call from Mamá, saying, "Buy bread!" was more important than class time was.

Things have changed. First of all, not many companies are offering free classes to their students anymore. People who didn't behave themselves in classes have not been given more classes. (There's an economic crisis, after all.) The best reason, though, is because phones can do so much more than they could in 2001. As a result, I want to learn some new things, too, especially how to welcome phones into the classroom, and the truth is that I see more advantages than disadvantages.

Here are three reasons to keep that phone on while you're learning.

Don't write it down - take a photo! Even the cheapest mobile phone now has a decent camera on it. If you find it hard to take notes AND take part in the class at the same time, use the camera on your phone to record what's being written on the board.

I do this a lot when we have a class with a lot of grammar, and there's something I want to remember, or if I explained something in a different way and I want to remember how I did it.

It's also a good method if you're one of those people who likes to take lots of notes - and then you never look at them again. Be honest - what do you look at more, your notes from English class, or your phone? If you're like 99% of people, it'll be the latter.

Keep track of your homework assignments and exam dates with a notes application. I use Evernote because I can link it in with GMail (which, in turn, can connect class notes in Google Drive), and I can also open the pictures in Penultimate to write notes on the photos.

Use an online dictionary like Dictionary.com, instead of a paper dictionary. Or, even better, try to find your favourite dictionaries online. For example, did you know that the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary - the big one that sells for €45 - is now available totally free, online (although with reduced features)?

Use an app to organize your notes. In yesterday's post, I mentioned three apps that we've used in classes, but for every app I mentioned, there are probably fifteen or twenty that I don't know about that  are just as good. 

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