Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

This conversation is closed.

Smartphone integration in classrooms

This idea is currently being proposed from my android before my computer science class begins. I believe part of the revolution in education is the initialization and integration of programming courses in classrooms, beginning as early as elementary education. Students nowadays are using cellphones before they even know where words such as android or galaxy came from. I remember receiving my first cellphone in the 8th grade and the only use I found for it back then was calling my parents to come pick me up from after school activities. This wasn't even a necessary convenience back then. I could have easily borrowed the school's office phone or a friend's. Now i see 4yr old kids playing with iphones while shopping at the grocery story. The growing dependence on smartphones is increasing. I just bought my first one this month, a galaxy nexus, and have been nearly inseparable from it. Sadly, i will be required to turn it on silent and stow it away once class begins, stowing away limitless information and a viable learning tool. Since i got my phone, i told myself i would not use it for silly games to waste my time away, but what else would i use it for i wondered? The kid next to me is playing words with friends and the sorority girl in the next row is playing fruit ninja. This got me thinking about the future of smartphones.

Many teachers assume that everyone who has a cellphone out during class is texting and everyone who has a smartphone out is playing games, tweeting, and/or texting. It has been brought up in several TEDtalks and other outside articles about the revolution of education. Teachers can definitely find ways to integrate social networking and apps to their lesson plan. Homework can possibly one-day be turned in on facebook and students can be actively engaged in learning calculus on their new app a teacher designs. This brings up another idea. Teachers should have some programming background in order to integrate these new ideas into their classrooms.

  • Feb 12 2012: I have to say that I agree with you Aaron but as yet we dont have the skills, understanding or access to hardware that will enable all teachers and students to effectively utilise the incredible potential of mobile internet devices. It will only be through the innovation and hard work of teachers like you that educational paradigms will shift to incorporate the new media world. I'm currently spending my Sunday developing my first ibook knowing that the majority of my students do not own ipads but I feel it is my responsibility to try to informed about the potential of such inventions. Keep up the good work!
  • Feb 2 2012: Do you want to integrate smartphones into the classroom or YOUR smartphone into the classroom?

    Technology is being integrated into our education system more and more. Smart boards, assignment completed online, etc. I think this is a positive trend as long as the tools remain tools for acquiring a sound education.

    I completely agree with the idea that programming needs to be a part of the school curriculum, beginning in elementary school. I am planning to run for office this year and that is actually one of my proposals so I am excited to see someone still in school identifying it as a need.

    Have you heard about Apple's new iTextbook on the iPad? Jobs wanted to replace the college textbook industry by making textbooks downloadable on the iPad. Hopefully within five years we will see a push to do this in the public education system as well.

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      Feb 2 2012: Sorry, i don't understand the difference between integrating my smartphone and any other smartphone?

      But! I am thrilled to see someone with similar views on the future of education run for office. I myself am still trying to wrap my head around how to change our world. what position are you running for? and how did you get to where you are? I am set on the idea that you need to be in a position of authority in order to make changes in society. New York has already partnered with IBM to create a curriculum grades 9-14 that includes programming

      Etext has been around for quite a while, but is sadly not that much cheaper than buying a real textbook. There was a TEDtalk about these kinds of choices. Buying an intangible file of data for $120 or buying a textbook with access to the Etext for $121. Most people would just purchase the book. Therefore, in order to shift the textbook industry from paperback books to Ebooks or iTextbooks, we'll need to work with them to increase the demand.

      Several issues that would ensue from this change, both positive and negative, include:
      - unemployment in a large portion of textbook manufacturers
      - the actual buildings will be unnecessary
      - accessibility of these books in classrooms and at home?
      -----students will need either tablets or laptops in order to access these books
      -----hence, integration would only be more feasible in middle/upper class districts
      - trees will be saved
      - mobility of learning

      I'm sure many other repercussions will also occur if this is enacted.
      • Feb 3 2012: Aaron,

        "Sorry I dont understand the difference between integrating my smartphone and any other smartphone."

        There is a big difference - from both the user's and issuer's point of view.

        User: Your smartphone is your smartphone. It's a tough line to tiptoe when you are telling kids, 'you can have your property, but can only use it to the ends I direct'. No one is going to abide by that and it nearly impossible to enforce. If a school is going to integtate smartphones (or tablets) into the classroom, it should be as a learning tool solely. Not entertainment, not Fruit Ninja.

        Issuer: I would never get the legislature to agree to allocate funds to make tablets available which allow the student to play Fruit Ninja. And to make it a requirement, the state will have to issue the tablets, so that poor kids are not at a disadvantage. The tablets would have to designed with particular programs, and not others. There would have to be unalterable restrictions on internet use, etc.

        "We'll need to work with them to increase demand."

        Agreed. Making the SC Education System a buyer does increase demand. As the first to act, it would give us a tremendous advantage and leverage. You, Apple (and other ebook publishers), and I all know as soon as one state makes it work, the rest will follow, bringing even more demand.

        There are already efforts underway to provide every school child with a laptop. I think those resources would be better allocated to purely educational tablets or smartphones. I think integration is possible across the board, not solely affluent districts.

        The other side effects you mention are both challenging and intriguing. As retail goes online, big box stores are unnecessary (literally the building has no use). Similarly, as textbooks become ebooks, an entire industry's infrastructure will need to be dismantled or it will lay in ruin.

        I am running as an Independent for the SC State House, District 23.

      • Feb 3 2012: Also, thanks for the link regarding P Tech and the details concerning it. I think that is certainly a step in the right direction.

        However, I want programming to be introduced much sooner than the ninth grade. I want our first graders introduced to three languages: English, Spanish and programming. I think its really important for kids to grasp how a computer works as they learn how to operate it.

        I don't know if I like IBM's privileged status either. I don't think we ought to farm out our education aystem to multinationals. The goal is to instill the most employable traits in our students and then have companies compete for their labor.

        I do like the idea of turning HS into a broad apprenticeship. Our state demands that certain jobs be completed every year. Rather than privatize those tasks, I would like to see our high schoolers have the opportunity to work on those projects and acquire real world experience in a given field while still in HS.

        For example, between 2008-10, SC spent over $200 million on architecture fees. Not building fees, architecture fees. Why not have highschoolers with an interest in engineering work to develop plans for these projects, and submit them to the state for a choice to be made. You could do this with state jobs in every field and every level of intellectual capability (we would have HS engineers, as well as HS construction workers, coordinators, financiers and accountants (State Treasury), etc.

        Your thoughts?

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          Feb 4 2012: You bring up a very interesting proposal. Redistributing to whole level of education so that it coincides with our changing times, returning the standards back to where it once was. It was only a few decades ago when the average living conditions could be achieved through a high-school diploma, now the norm is to get a degree in college.

          If I am interpreting this correctly, you are suggesting that we return the norm of education to that of a high-school diploma. Consequently, we would be improving on the level of education students would receive by then. This would transfer much of the power universities hold on society today to that of high schools. Universities were created with this specialization in mind. By rerouting the choice of specialization and making it available to high school students, the establishment of universities will decline significantly. This is something we will have to keep in mind. However, I do believe the advancement of students and providing them with the opportunity to assimilate into society as soon as possible will be of huge benefit for the future of society. The amalgamation of public education and work is truly a revolutionary idea. As of now there is a fine line between the two. It will be a difficult curriculum to enforce as well. Will students be paid for their contributions to these projects? In monetary or merit form? If students surpass expectations on these projects will they be required to continue with their education or be allowed to immediately begin their integration into society? These are a few of many questions that will need to be clarified if this idea is to be made a reality.

          Personally, I would not mind ignoring the repercussions that will most likely affect the university system, the current employment system, etc.. This is because the advancement of our future generations is far more important. There will be a selfishness to maintain these old systems, but from the words of Ken Robinson “reform is no use any
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          Feb 4 2012: more what we need is not evolution, but a revolution,” and I believe your view of turning high school into a broad apprenticeship invokes this revolution.
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    Jan 31 2012: Hey thanks for letting me know another conversation already existed! Not really sure how to check if a similar topic has been discussed on here.

    The way society is progressing, I think that programming will become an essential asset to have in the future. I suppose this conversation will be closing shortly since you have already covered most if it. All in all there has to be regulation in the classroom when it comes to smartphones.
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    Jan 31 2012: Hi Aaron,

    ...Very clever idea about teachers having some app programming understanding, to help them design phone-based activities. I'm a 'phone on vibrate and leave it out' kind of teacher. There isn't a simple answer to the phones in the classroom debate. I tested the waters earlier this year by starting a conversation, http://www.ted.com/conversations/5876/should_smart_phones_be_allowed.html . The bottom line is that there are appropriate, and inappropriate times to use phones in school, or anywhere else. I have kids receiving more than a dozen texts per period. How will those students ever hope to focus long enough on a cognitive task, to actually arrive at a solution? (regardless of whether the activity is on-line, on-phone, or on-paper.)

    By the way, we already use FB, a lot.