Posted by: crudbasher | February 21, 2012

Future Uses Of Smartphones In The Classroom

(cc) AcidZero

I find myself saying “There’s an app for that” as I go about my daily life. Keep in mind a smartphone is really a portable computer that can also make phone calls. People are coming up with new and interesting ways to use that mobile computing to do new things. Well, I thought of one.

The iPhone 4S has something called Siri. It allows you to ask the phone a question and it does it’s best to answer for you. It’s fairly limited so far but as with all technology, it will rapidly improve. One flaw with it right now is you have to push a button to get Siri to listen to you, but what if it was always listening?

The big revolution in computers (and phones) right now is they are becoming aware of the world around them. Input devices used to be just keyboards because they couldn’t understand voice commands but that is almost solved. Now with devices like Kinect from Microsoft, they are able to watch us and respond to gestures. This is only the beginning. There is already an app where you can get your phone to listen to a song you are hearing and it will tell you what the song is.

Once computers are able to watch and listen what is happening around us, it makes several near magical capabilities happen. You will be able to have a camera on your person always recording what you are looking at. The computer will then categorize what you are seeing and hearing and put it in searchable form. Your whole life will be searchable. In addition it will be able to proactively do things for you and fetch information. For example, when driving if you get stuck in traffic, it will be able to constantly suggest alternate routes to avoid congestion (until we have self driving cars).

So what will this new ability to sense the world do in the classroom? Well, first of all the smartphone will be listening to the lecture. It can transcribe what the teacher says, then compile it into notes. This isn’t just a transcription process, it will reduce the lecture to the essentials. After making notes, it will go online and find supplemental information about the material, and even connect up with other education providers to download additional lessons. Finally, it will be able to make sample tests from the notes taken and measure the amount of learning taking place.

What is going to be really funny is when a teacher says something that is incorrect and the classroom of phones, in unison, display the correct information to the students.

This technology isn’t that far off. I give it 3 years tops.


  1. its quite scary but you are correct. It’s right around the corner. I just hope it never gets to the point like at the end of the movie Wall-E.

    • Good observation about Wall-E. I guess we have to make sure our technology remains just a tool and doesn’t do everything for us. Thanks for commenting!!

  2. As a teacher, I can’t wait for technology to help me create and grade tests! My job is to make the content interesting and memorable, and to make sure that my students can understand it–I’ll be happy to have technology take care of my busywork so that I can focus on the important things.

    • That is a really great attitude! I come across so many teachers that are resistant to any change in the current ways. Let the teacher do what they are really essential at.
      Thanks for commenting!!

  3. The biggest barrier to using smart phones in the classroom is not that the students don’t have them yet, they do and they know how to use them, it’s that the technology is so uncontrollable. My school board has decided the negative issues that smartphones bring in to the classroom such as cyber-bullying and distraction outweigh the pedagogical advantages of them and they have implemented an across-the-board ban.

    • HI James,

      You bring up a very valid point. I’ll write my blog post tomorrow addressing this.

      Thanks for commenting!!

    • How to control the disruption: have a “Cellphone use only” room where the kids can do to use the cellphone. It needs to be monitored with each kid given 30 minutes to use their phones. All that takes is a guard at the door to sign in and sign out kids.

      Any kid who ignores the warning gets detention and his phone confiscated to be signed out from the principal’s office.

  4. […] C. posted a great comment on my post from a few days ago titles Future Uses Of Smartphones In The Classroom. Here is his comment and then I have some thoughts. The biggest barrier to using smart phones in […]

  5. […] how does this apply to education? As I have mentioned before, our devices will be listening and watching what is happening pretty soon. They will then be able to start understanding what is happening […]

  6. The day smartphones develop rudimentary intelligence means that they will learn to be more stealthy whilst keeping the user safe. This means that a kid can more more boast about all the technology he has at home because it will be deleted before being sent, though it will look like it was sent.

    Next: Skynet will rise and a terminator army will wipe out mankind. 😉

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