Home Page ס Our Blog ס Academic Articles ס The small, smart friend of the teacher

The small, smart friend of the teacher

November 19, 2015

Just before entering the first time to class K-5, deputy director warned me: "The student with a gray shirt - Ilan (fictitious name), is ... Forget it. He is not made for studying."

As a new teacher, it sounded to me strange, but all my attempts to interest him, explain and attract his attention during several classes, were unsuccessful. Just before I decided to let the child alone, I saw a little something that changed the whole story. One minute after the well, while getting out of the classroom, two students came running to him and gave him a mobile phone. One of them was in shock, trying to explain what the problem with the device was. Ilan did not even let him finish and have already returned the device works and ready for use. I saw what happened, gave a thought, smiled, turned to Ilan and said, "Congratulations. You have just been crowned as my assistant for iPhone issues".

From that moment, at every class I started to give him two basic trivia questions, which were completed at record time by Ilan - using his mobile phone. At first, these were easy; a quick search on the net was enough to raise their replies. As time passed, the new questions became more complex and began to demand understanding and logic. Ilan was sitting alert and waiting for the new questions. Sometimes he could not find relevant information but found more complex content, which I did not mean to ask. The student who I thought did not want to study showed that if just make learning more relevant and connected to the reality of the students, great things might happen. Following Ilan experience additional students got interested in using the smartphone and it has become a key learning tool in the classroom. The fact that all the students had one made it even better because students work in groups and find all kind of material. I soon discovered that not just the phones are smart but the students - who know how to use them effectively and get great results.

We can love their smart phones or hate them, think they make a better world or make our students indifferent, but it does not matter how we look at it. They are here to stay and unlike many inventions who the target audience were the older (like car, television, telegraph etc.); this is a revolution essentially strengthening children and adolescents.


More and more young people use mobile and the use of mobile devices grew and keep growing steadily. In 2013, over 90% of young people have already used their own mobile phone, most of them smart phones. It seems the smart phones are becoming very popular and present at everyone’s World and I believe they are not going to miss the World of Education. Today’s educators face a dilemma, whether to fight against or embrace it.

It is true that there are many challenges in making the smartphone a teaching and learning tool. It is true, many see them as a distraction device, it is also true that much of the use of the youth, it is not related to learning correctly - using them requires from the teachers to leave the comfort zone.

But let dream for a moment,

Let us think about all the advantages mobile devices provide and what would happen if we success to use it in our favor. Let us think of the ability to search for information easily and quickly communicate with any student or group of students, to use the camera as a tool for the development of the visual aspect of learning or even create a video project quickly. Imagine the possibility of receiving personal feedback from students and allow anyone to learn in an interesting way - through reading, watching, talking, playing, etc. Imagine that you can expand the boundaries of class and send your students in a journey.

Mobile devices offer a tremendous opportunity and if we decide to embrace it, education and teaching will become more connected to students' world.

How do you do that? Here are three ways in which smartphones can serve for teaching and learning;

1. Receive instant feedback during class

Think how effective it would be, if you asked a question, and instead of letting students raise their hands to see who knows the correct answer, you just let them answer the question with their phones or tablets. In this way you do not miss all the students who are ashamed or do not want to talk and you get everyone’s’ answers immediately, including accurate segmentations and distribution of responses.

Instead of guessing whether students understood, you can be sure, if you suddenly discover that some students made the same mistake - you know what needs to be review or even find a student or students to explain for you.

It turns out you can do this for your next lesson very easily. A variety of simple tools that allow you to do so (sometimes even non-smart phones) and become a very popular attractions among teachers. For example kahoot, pollev.

And how does it look in practice? Here is an example of some of the uses of those programs


2. Travel between sites

Imagine a lesson that starts in the classroom and moves quickly to a journey that combine the net and physical space. One of the simplest way is using QR code. This is a barcode that allows through a quick scan, learn or go through a predefined addresses. The bar code can be scanned using any smart device with a camera and free apps.

The advantage of QR code is that you can use it anywhere; you can send it as a picture or to print and hang it whenever you want. You can generate codes that point to a site, text, contact information and a lot more options. If you want to produce these codes, you can do it easily and for free at many websites, for example:



A teacher in the United States has done an interesting use of QR codes teaching a student who suffered severe dyslexia. Every morning when students gathered and recited in class, the student remains frustrated that he just could not decipher the letters. To make him part of the ‘reading time’, the teacher asked all the students in the class to record themselves reading a book of their choice. The recording was uploaded and a QR code was attached. When the reading time arrived each one could choose a book, and the student who has difficulty reading could choose a story, scan the code, and hear one friends reading it to him while he was going through the written text, and learn to recognize words and letters.

Each one of you can use these codes to teach - instead of writing links on the board and have students copy them; you can refer to them easily anywhere via codes. For example, code can be distributed so that at each class student group will move in and learn by scanning the codes. Dozens of options and ideas are on the web and they will help you make the learning experience interesting and challenging for you and the students.


3. The world of educational apps

The main use of apps is with smart mobiles. We love apps and use them for almost everything, from checking emails and Facebook updates to navigating around, playing games or diary. It is quite amazing to discover that educational apps market is a huge one - today educational apps category at Apple's App Store is the second-largest category - larger than business apps, entertainment or sports.


A large part of the applications are free to download and can be found almost all subject of study or educational purpose, educational games through management applications, to schedule or even apps to help solve math. The application can easily be find at various applications stores and in the web.

Thanks to Ilan, I learned that there is no such thing as “not made for studying” - if you only make learning relevant and connected to the world and capabilities. I also learned that the greatest diversion, which most teachers are concerned, it is actually a great gift for those who exploit it and know (learn) how to use it in their favor. What do you think about this? It is better to fight against or embrace it?

Roy Tzikorl (Chico)

Educational and social entrepreneur specialized in combine technologies and new communication tools in education. In recent years he has participated in the creation of a series of initiatives in the area of education and higher education.
(Translated from Hebrew)