Despite the advantages of smartphone usage, it’s long been assumed that smartphones are more of a distraction than a learning tool. A study on the impact of mobile phone usage in a simulated college classroom revealed that students who did not use their smartphones took more detailed notes and were able to better recall information than those who used smartphones. Ultimately, the non-smartphone users scored an average of more than one letter grade higher than the smartphone users.
Smartphones continue to evolve as their manufacturers attempt to keep up with the latest technological innovations and the increasing demand for real-time information and connectivity. For students earning a degree online, there are numerous reasons why smartphones can be useful learning tools.
Educational apps are used by teachers to enhance coursework, while tech-savvy students can take advantage of smartphone-based learning aids such as myHomework Student Planner or rent/buy textbooks at greatly reduced prices using apps like Chegg. Evernote remains one of the top note-taking apps for students of all ages, and the language-learning app Duolingo can be a big help with foreign-language classes.
For many students, it’s easier to use a mobile device than a pen and paper. Simply put, students want the advantage of being able to find information as quickly as their fingers can fly over their phones’ tiny keyboards. And as online learning continues to grow in popularity and convenience, students are utilizing chatrooms and seeking reviews of their work via their phones.
Of course, using your smartphone for school can also come with an array of pitfalls, including the following:
A significant drawback of using smartphones in academia is the difficulty associated with determining reliable sources of information. Whether you’re quickly seeking a specific answer or conducting extensive research for a paper, you need to know the difference between good sources and bad sources. Let’s face it: A Harvard white paper carries considerably more clout than a Wikipedia article.
Another major problem with smartphones is the element of distraction. You can be doggedly researching a topic when a message pops up or the phone rings. Although many students have developed robust stick-with-it skills by the time they get to college, smartphones can sabotage even the best of them.
Professors usually prescribe specific formats for assignments, with points deducted if these instructions are not followed. While it may be convenient to draft a paper with an app like Evernote, you should always use a word-processing program on a laptop or desktop computer when finalizing your assignment.
Before deciding to heavily rely on your smartphone as a study tool, consider that you may be putting your ability to read and process large amounts of information at risk. College students’ attention spans seem to already be suffering from smartphone use, and some experts fear that students may soon be unable to comprehend anything longer than the average text message.
In one study, 4 out of 5 college students “experienced panic, isolation and stress when attempting to unplug their phones for one day.” Using your phone as a study aid can be helpful from time to time, but if you’re unable to focus on your education without your smartphone in hand, it may be time to cut back on your device usage.
At the University of Texas at El Paso, we take technology seriously but also acknowledge that smartphones may not be the optimal study tool. That said, computer-based learning comes with a range of advantages—provided you know how to get the most out of your internet-based education. Visit our blog for online learning tips for current and future UTEP Connect students.
Connect with UTEP to learn more!
*Blog is best viewed using Chrome or Firefox browsers*