Smartphones over Tablets

I have numerous reasons why I prefer a smartphone over tablets for students.

1) Students always have their smartphone with them regardless of where they are. Students do not always carry their tablets with them. For example, Mary may not take her tablet to swim practice but she will have her smartphone with her. Just before practice, she goes to her history class’s website to get the link to a video. Chris will not take his tablet to work but he will have his smartphone with him so, during break, he can learn or practice his Spanish words. Learning can only be 24/7 if the students have their mobile device with them.

2) Smartphones allow students to text. Students spend much time texting in their daily life; they texted on an average of 60 texts a day in 2011 Teachers can have students text to find out information from others outside the classroom, to collaborate on projects, and to write. When students text others, they usually get immediate responses.

3) The show, Who wants to be a Millionaire?, gave us the expression “Phone a friend” and illustrated that people can learn from others. When students use a smartphone, they can call a person to ask questions, do a follow-up or clarify information. Students can talk to an expert / user of the learning concept such as a contractor, a business person, or an artist. When students talk to people outside the classroom, they see their in-class learning as something real. Students can “shadow” professionals through weekly phone calls.

4) Smartphones are cheaper than tablets. A parent can purchase a high quality smartphone for their child for less than a hundred dollars, a high quality tablet costs much more. Schools can purchase good smartphones at lower prices.

What device has your school selected as its mobile learning device? Why? What does that device do beyond apps?

cross-posted at

Harry Grover Tuttle teaches English and Spanish college courses at Onondaga Community College and blogs at Education with Technology. He is also the author of several books on formative assessment.