While most instructors lament the change of tides where every student has a cell phone seeming more interested in a four inch screen than the lesson at hand, I often wonder how quickly the instructor would change their tune if they knew, for example, that their students were tweeting something profound that they heard while listening to their favorite teacher.
I know, I know. This may be an idealistic approach, and yes, I know that they're more than likely checking how many people liked their Instagram selfie. Still, what if instead of passing around a cell phone basket, we chose to meet them where they are? What if instead of fighting the waves coming at us, we learned to surf them?
I'm not implying that we should consider cell phones to be an integral part of all of our lessons, but what if we stopped viewing them as a "necessary evil" and began to view them as a supplemental tie-in? If we can change the way we view the technology students bring into classes from a point of distraction to an opportunity for education, everybody will benefit.
So here’s a challenge. Before reading on, please take action. I'd like you to set aside the next three minutes to come up with three ideas on how your students can use cell phones in class, in a way that facilitates their learning and write your answers in the comments below.