Smartphones are a fact of life. They’re in your students’ pockets and they’re not going to start ignoring them just because you don’t like them. The much better strategy, therefore, is to find ways to actually co-opt the smartphone and make it a part of your class. Of course, for that, you do need to know how to motivate students so that they’ll actually use them.
So how do you do that? Well, it turns out it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are some of the best strategies we’ve found.
Okay, if you’ve heard of the term, then you probably thought of this one yourself. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, however. People (particularly boys, it turns out) love to compete and the best way to do that gives them something to compete on. By gasifying whatever you’re doing you can achieve that quite easily.
For those of you who don’t know what gamification is, it’s the act of turning a regular activity into some sort of game. Duolingo, for example, does it with language learning.
And that’s great if you want to do language learning, but what about other fields? Well, you can go looking for some apps (there are plenty) or you can make your own. Don’t know where to start? Then why not try Quizizz. Here you can build leaderboards and theme music, even while carefully tracking who excels at what. It’s also easy to use.
Create dedicated social media
There are plenty of platforms that now allow you to create groups for your class, where class members can share with each other, work on projects together and in other ways use them for learning.
Done well, this can be a great tool for learning. Just make sure that you also leave them room to use the social media non-educatively. Then it can become one of their go to platforms, which will make it so that even your least eager students end up aware of when assignments are due and what other people are asking about them.
If you’ve got some class subject and you know somebody interesting who knows somebody about it but they live too far away, why not invite them to facetime in? This can really be a great way for students to interact with people from different cultures and different parts of the world.
You can even create the opportunity for students to interview these people at some length and then come back to the classroom. If you have enough interesting people who would take part in something like this, then you can create the opportunity for them to get first-hand knowledge of something that happened in history, politics or any other field that is of particular interest to your students.
Curate interesting material
There are now plenty of online places where you can curate material that you think will be interesting for your students to read. Even better, you can create a group page where everybody can curate interesting articles and material together. That can make it a lot less work for you and a lot more interesting for your class.
You can even set themes and ask your students to find some kind of content that matches that theme. The great thing about this is that if everybody manages to find something decent for a project in this way, then collectively they can have a wide selection of sources to consider so that whether they write it.
Don’t know any good curation platforms? Then you can always try pocket, which is free.
Connect with parents and get them involved
Perhaps it doesn’t take a village to raise a child, but it certainly takes their parents. And the great thing about smartphones is that it allows you to get in touch with parents without having to actually give a note to their kid to take home (and forget).
For example, with Remind, you can easily stay in touch with parents and in this way make certain that they are aware of what’s going on. In this way, they’ll be in the loop and hopefully far more engaged in their child’s education. This will make sure that if their child is struggling, you can take steps to make sure that they stay up to speed.
The smartphone can be turned from a device of distraction into a great communication and learning tool. All you need to know is what is possible. Fortunately, that’s becoming easier by the day are there are just so many articles like this one out there that will give you great advice as to what you can use.
So keep on reading. Perhaps you can even curate information together until you have everything you need. From there you can then make sure that your class stays engaged and that other teacher learns the power that students carry around in their pockets every day.