That Little Phone is Really Big!

In the world of higher education, the little phone can actually be a big device. It has the ability to connect students through information, connectivity, and interactivity. By using a smartphone, students can not only consume information, but they can also produce information.

DaveLawler / / CC BY-ND

ECAR has been surveying graduates since 2004 regarding technology and higher education. Most recently, it gathered information from over 112,000 undergraduate students in 250 institutions about their technology experiences. Among the key findings were:

  • Students recognize the value, but agree that they still need guidance when it comes to technology and academics
  • Students prefer blended learning environments
  • Students are ready to use mobile devices for academics – and they look to their instructors for guidance
  • Students value their privacy

Students noted that technology makes them feel more connected to the institution by 64%, their instructor by 60% and other students by 53%.

Some ECAR recommendations that are worthy to note:

  • Students expect their instructors to train them effectively to use the technology in their coursework (Yet, instructors need support, encouragement, and incentives to do so.)
  • Instructors need to create a strategy for incorporating mobile devices in the classroom environment.

Take a look at this great data from ECAR:



We can see that although the mobile device can be a great tool, it is widely discouraged. Why not tap into this great tool?

  • Allow students to create pictures or videos for assignments
  • Use Remind101 to remind students about assignments, class announcements, or even a word of encouragement
  • Please the course content on your LMS (we use Moodle) so that it can be accessed 24×7
  • Try Poll Everywhere or Socrative as a student response system
  • Have students draw their answer using Paper 53
  • Have students text you the answer
  • “Check me on this” and allow students to access the Internet to check a fact or figure
  • Use a class hashtag for Twitter to follow discussions
  • Create a Google form and allow them to complete in class on their device. Use it as a quick check for understanding.

Establish rules for mobile device use such as “face down on your desk, left hand corner, when not in use”. Use a chart in front of the room for device use:  Red = testing/no device Yellow = Device use with teacher initiation  Green = Device on and ready


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