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It's important to meet students where they are, try to operate within their workflows, and understand their perspective; and while mobile phones can be problematic, they are clearly embedded in educators’ and students’ lives, and need to be used for positive outcomes.
The best way to mitigate the negative impact of large higher education classroom enrollments is to change the...
The American Consortium for Equity in Education
Do you feel that student assessment is demanding more of your attention than ever before? If you answered yes,...
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Student assessment has been present throughout time, and so have the venues and platforms through which students submit their work for review. From oral arguments and slates in the 1800s to typewriters and word processors, all the way up to scantron forms and scanners, assessment reflects the changing times of technology and trends.
These days—that is to say, the twenty-first century, students work mostly on computers, tablets, and mobile phones, using them for research and communication and work submissions. Clickers, too, are ubiquitous in higher education lecture halls.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased student reliance on such tools: “Due to the countrywide closure, schools, universities, and companies moved to online platforms for distance learning and remote working. This new lifestyle, enforced by staying at home and under quarantine, has brought new challenges socially, economically, physiologically, and psychologically. One significant lifestyle shift is the complete reliance on the internet and smart devices, like tablets, laptops, and mobiles. During the quarantine, with the necessary social/spatial distancing, the usage of these smart devices increased at an increasingly fast pace” (Saadeh, et al., 2021).
To date, mobile phones have been a controversial addition to the classroom, because they can act as distractions and prohibit student learning, let alone provide shortcut solutions. Studies have shown that they also display troubling inequities and escalate bullying within school environments (Beneito & Vicente-Chirivella, 2020). There have been numerous articles on how to curtail the inclusion of mobile phones within a classroom setting, and ensuing tips on ways to discourage their use (Selwyn & Aargaard, 2020).
But–it’s also important to meet students where they are, try to operate within their workflows, and understand their perspective; and while mobile phones can be problematic, they are clearly embedded in educators’ and students’ lives, and need to be used for positive outcomes. Says Meghan Sullivan, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame: “Finding ways to meet [students] halfway, using what feels normal for them and feels exciting can make your teaching that much more effective, rather than sticking your head in the sand.”
Mobile phones can be used as learning tools, because why? Because students have been using them as learning tools, too.
To that end, we’ve released the Gradescope Mobile app, which allows students to take pictures of their handwritten assignments and upload them directly to their course–a familiar way versus how it’s been done to date– essentially, via a scanner or a third party app. Students can now take a picture like depositing a check via mobile through a bank or upload a file from their phone.
By meeting students where they are, Gradescope Mobile app provides a better, more streamlined process for students–and a reduction in the amount of time instructors support students struggling to upload assignments without a scanner or issues with the third party app.
With effective implementation and use of the right apps, mobile phones can be part of a meaningful, productive suite of tools in the classroom. And with mobile phones here to stay, it is beneficial for us all to enhance the positive potential of phones as a learning tool.