Times have changed since Graham Bell invented the telephone in the 1800’s. The innovation of mobile phones and later smartphones has revolutionized how people communicate. However, today’s smartphones possess more complex capabilities than just simple communication. Application developers are constantly engaged in developing new applications and updating the old ones with new features. Presently, the use of smartphones is relevant in almost every field: from medicine, physical science, to education. Over the years, teachers and tutors have increasingly come up with innovative ways of integrating technology in their classes through projectors, smartboards and videos, and most recently iPods, tablets, and smartphones (Banister, 2010). However, the impact of these devices needs to be assessed extensively to determine whether they are beneficial or just mere destructions. These factors are what form the foundation of this paper.

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As Bromley (2012) illustrates, having smartphones as supplementary reading materials by students enhances their vocabulary, ability to comprehend, as well as their writing and technological skills. This is possible given that these smartphones will provide the student with a platform through which they can find answers to any questions that arise during studies. Bromley states that a student can quickly look up a new word from the internet and thus add to their vocabulary (2012). The ready access to the internet gives the students confidence that they can understand any concept presented to them. For instance, Bromley’s experience where she came across a standard metric that she had hard time comprehending enabled her to gain more knowledge beyond the scope of the book she was reading. Exposing students to such experiences opens up their minds and especially if they are curious to learn more. Student’s reading experiences can also be enhanced by applications that enable users to read e-books that ease the burden of having to carry bulky physical books.

Several studies have also been conducted to investigate the impact of tablet and smartphone applications on children in elementary schools. For example, Kay and Kwak (2017) conducted a study that assessed how these applications affect the attitudes and performance of grade 2/3 children in a mathematics class. They conducted their study using five mathematics applications. These were Math Tappers, Prodigy, and Sushi Monster, which were all game-based, Thinking Blocks, which focused on being constructive, and finally Show Me, which is demonstrative. According to the study, the effectiveness of the applications varied depending on the usability and their content. Kay and Kwak (2017) also established that using the applications in class engaged the students more. The applications provided challenging tasks with good visuals and gave the pupils feedback and an opportunity to redo tasks. All these factors enhanced their performance in mathematics. Carr (2012) also found significant improvements in mathematical performance of students after being exposed to smartphone applications.

Finally, the Blackboard has been a revolutionary application that has connected tutors to their students wherever they are. The web-based application enables tutors to post course content online, which can then be accessed by students from their respective classes. Online postings and grading can also be done and accessed using the system. From a study by Wang, Shen, Novak, and Pan (2009), these online systems make the learning process more interactive. In most cases, these systems are more efficient in colleges where the classes have a very large number of students. The percentage of US citizens who own a smartphone by 2016 was 77% (Pew Research Center, 2017). Given the results from different studies, it is important for education institutions to harness the power of smartphones and integrate them into the learning process.

  • Banister, S. (2010). Integrating the iPod touch in K–12 education: Visions and vices. Computers in the Schools, 27(2), 121-131. doi:10.1080/07380561003801590
  • Bromley, K. (2012). Using smartphones to supplement classroom reading. The Reading Teacher, 66(4), 340-344. doi:10.1002/trtr.01130
  • Carr, J. M. (2012). Does math achievement h’APP’en when iPads and game-based learning are incorporated into fifth-grade mathematics instruction? Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11, 269-286. Retrieved from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol11/JITEv11p269-286Carr1181.pdf
  • Kay, R. H., & Kwak, J. (2017). Do math apps help elementary school students? It depends. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317902884_Do_Math_Apps_Help_Elementary_School_Students_It_Depends
  • Pew Research Center (2017). Demographics of mobile device ownership and adoption in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
  • Wang, M., Shen, R., Novak, D., & Pan, X. (2009). The impact of mobile learning on students’
    learning behaviours and performance: Report from a large blended classroom. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(4), 673-695. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00846.x