Smartphones & Education

Chad Gillis, Journalist | 4/10/2012 | 6 comments

Chad Gillis
The role of technology in education is growing around the world as remote, previously unconnected cultures gain access to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. How will technology influence human growth and development and at what stages? Does smartphone usage mean smarter people? Opinions are split at best, and much of the answer might have to do with where you are and your age.

Gartner conducted a poll posted on, which found that 46 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 would rather have access to the Internet than to their own cars. The Baby Boomer generation came in at 15 percent.

That's a tremendous paradigm shift from just a few years ago and speaks loudly to how our evolving population chooses to interact with the world. Clearly, a portion of young adults would rather have instant access to a virtual version of reality than seek out a more traditional, engaging experience.

A Poll Position national survey found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 believe these devices will have a positive impact on education. Fifty-four percent of respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 see tablets and smartphones as useful educational tools.

In Southeast Asia, UNESCO volunteer teacher Vicky Colomba worked with two study groups involving children in remote communities along the border of Thailand and Myanmar.

“My experience showed me that the ubiquity of mobile phones constitutes an enormous but unexploited potential to bring learning to a huge number of people, including marginalized groups such as migrants or refugees,” Colomba wrote. “Instead of debating on the pros and cons of using mobile phones in education we should now be focusing on how to use them.”

But on the other end of the spectrum, you have Stanford University communications professor Clifford Nass who suggests smartphone and mobile device use can actually slow down productivity in the majority of people:

    Smartphones encourage you to do multiple things at once, which is not physiologically healthy for you because we are not built to do a multitude of tasks at one time. Research shows that multitasking lessens your ability to focus on what is relevant. Your phone makes you feel like you have to respond, which then increases your stress and harms your cognitive thinking.

Nass, who does own a smartphone, says that some users (those who can ration their time on social media platforms and other digital quasi-distractions) can benefit from having instant access to immense amounts of information. That situation, however, is not the norm, according to his findings.

Others, including Nicolas Carr, have suggested long-term access to nearly unlimited information will make us less cognitively capable, degrade our memories, and make it difficult to make those types of broad connections across various fields that enable innovation.

With this type of disagreement, educators and education CIOs still have to tread lightly. No one wants to be the person who spends money on devices that hurt our kids -- nor miss out on using the technology that will help kids reach a new level. No matter where you fall on the issue of smartphone and mobile device use in education, portable communication tools are clearly playing a greater roles in our lives, from social tools to gaming to educational platforms. In many ways, the decision will be out of the hands of CIOs, just as consumerization has taken the decision out of the hands of CIOs in the enterprise. Preparing for the potential issues might be the best they can do.

What do you think? What role do you see smartphones playing in education over the next five years? Comment below, if you still have the cognitive capacity.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
freespiritny25   Smartphones & Education   4/27/2012 10:29:17 AM
Re: Smartphone & Education
My cognitive capacity does suffer due to my multitasking :) I think the smartphones should stay out of the classroom. Students use them all day long and I believe they should be turned off during class time and give them time to focus on the lesson and learning without a phone on their hands.
Ahsan Zia   Smartphones & Education   4/14/2012 2:48:13 PM
Smartphones, no wonder are amazing gadgets that control our lives today. We can literally do anything by using millions of apps that are pouring into the AppStores from different vendors. Education field is also a very intimidating field for the app developers who have come up with marvelous software that can assist students in developing knowledge just by a few clicks. Numerous websites are available that can be accessed through search engines. So in simple words - Yes, smartphones are a great way to broaden the horizon of students and give the education system a new shape. Of course when there are pros, there are cons. But being an optimist, I usually stick to the pros.
bnazarian   Smartphones & Education   4/11/2012 10:15:24 AM
Re: likely a disruption
This is a good topic that needs to be discussed. I am thinking about similar things all the time, with the number of devices in my household alone, in the double digits. My daughter juggles an iPod touch and a current but "not a Smartphone" cell phone. She's downloading music, Facebooking, texting, etc. all the time. I've had an Android Smartphone for about 9 months (I was slow to jump onto the bandwagon). It does take you away from other things sometimes but it also makes life a little easier for me when I leave the house - navigation, finding restaurants, shopping, hearing Pandora radio stations in my car for example. 

The newest cool thing in my house are the guitars though. I got one for my daughter and I, one for my son. They've been taking lessons and are learning to play.

Recently I had a similar discussion to this post topic with my daughter. I told her years ago we didn't have social networking and Youtube, texting and all the cool video games to distract us from past times like learning a musical instrument. And that in some places where there was nothing else to do, a kid could become really proficient in sports or musical instruments, a craft or past time not aided by electronics and an Internet connection because there wasn't that distraction. She said "I bet there were more people then that were good at those things." Yep. probably. 

On the other hand, if my kids want to learn to play a rock riff for beginners, they have only to type in what they want and Youtube brings up hundreds of videos made by guitarists more advanced than them, showing them how to play those songs.

It appears to be a double edged sword.
User Ranking: Blogger
Henrisha   Smartphones & Education   4/11/2012 4:19:15 AM
Re: likely a disruption
I think this could go both ways. When implemented right, the possibility that the smartphones would pose only as distractions can be minimized. But when limits are not set or when the program is not as well-planned as it should be, then that's when we're going to be having problems.
Pedro Gonzales   Smartphones & Education   4/10/2012 11:05:58 PM
I think smartphone are just tools which should help education, smartphone are not the end by itself and by using them it should not automatically improve education or makes us smarter.  I believe that smartphone or other portable devices should support specific education goals, as we all not, if a smartphone is giving to a student who is not interested in the classes, they will use it for texting or wasting time.  Again, we should have clear goals on how this technology should be used in the class room and the software it supports.
kstaron   Smartphones & Education   4/10/2012 2:14:35 PM
likely a disruption
Unfortunately I think it more likely that as far as education goes smartphones are more likely to disrupt learning through kids paying more attention to their game apps than the teacher, or though new nd improved ways of bullying. I look at smartphones and think they are a great tool...for grownups.

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Chad Gillis
Chad Gillis   8/9/2012   9 comments
If you're the CIO at a prestigious technology university, you've likely heard of companies like Fidelis Education -- for-profits aimed at turning capable soldiers into solid technology ...
Chad Gillis   8/7/2012   8 comments
3D printing technology is decades-old, but new innovations and the promise of futuristic materials have one Dutch company thinking big, as in airplane big.
Chad Gillis   7/4/2012   21 comments
While searching for clues about the future of IT industry workers and, particularly, just what role, if any, CIOs will have in the development and growth of successful operations a decade ...
Chad Gillis   6/28/2012   66 comments
King records released "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" in April of 1966 and it quickly rose to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts. In the song, the man makes the money, the car, the train, ...
Chad Gillis   6/7/2012   18 comments
Technology and education are intertwined like chicken eggs and cholesterol: they are almost inseparable, and hardly anyone can agree on just what combination, if any, is best for the ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.