There has been a debate about allowing students to use mobile devices in class for several years now. Some professors are embracing the technology while others are strictly forbidding it in classrooms. There is no clear answer to this question yet. Allowing mobile devices in class currently has several advantages and disadvantages.
Pro: Access to Instant Information
A major advantage is that students can use the devices to access information instantly. This can make coursework easier to understand in class because unknown terms or concepts can be researched quickly. This increases student comprehension of the lessons and lectures while in class.
Con: Mobile Devices Can Become a Distraction
The largest disadvantage is that mobile devices can become a distraction for many students. The devices could continually alert students about messages, updates and emails from unrelated sources. If students use them to communicate constantly during class or log on Facebook or Twitter they are no longer useful. This can make teaching much more difficult.
Pro: Make Taking Notes Easier
It is sometimes easier for students to take notes during class when using a mobile device or tablet. This allows for better notes when reviewing coursework later before tests and exams. The devices can also be used to record an entire class verbatim so that it can be reviewed afterwords. Some devices can even take pictures of presentations or work done on a blackboard.
Con: Students Could Develop Retention Problems
Relying on a mobile device for notes and information could cause retention problems for students during class. Students might become used to referencing everything through the device instead of memorizing the information. This habit can sometimes prevent students from developing a deep, cognitive and applicable understanding of what is being taught.
Pro: Send Information to Everyone At Once
Mobile devices are tools that instructors can use every day. They make it possible to send any type of information to everyone in a class at the same time. There is no need to develop websites or distribute materials individually. Coursework can be sent through email as needed during class.
Con: Some Students Might Be Excluded
A final potential disadvantage is that some students might not have smart phones, tablets, or laptops. Basing courses around the use of these students will exclude these students. The risk is that students without the right technology could eventually be at a disadvantage during and unable to participate.
The decision to allow the use of mobile devices during class is something each school and instructor must make individually. The decision needs to be based on the coursework, the teaching style and the students who typically attend the classes. All the pros and cons need to be considered before making a decision.