For this interview, I reached out to my friend Chris. Chris used to work at the school where I teach, but two years ago he took a position at the high school that my school shares a building with. This has made it easy to stay in touch, and I knew that Chris would be a great person to interview about using cell phones in the classroom.
Chris teaches a variety of high school art classes. He teaches everything from basic foundations of art, through advanced placement classes. When I asked Chris how he incorporates cell phones in his classes, he had a lot of ideas to share. Chris lets his students use their cell phones in a variety of ways that help enhance instruction. Chris often has students take pictures of their artwork while it is in progress. He says he then uses the photos to have the class do some peer-review of art. Being able to project a picture for the class is much easier than having a whole class crowd around a piece of art. He says this process also helps students see their art in a new way. When they have to decide how to best photograph the art, and when they see it in front of the class, they see it with new eyes. Chris also allows his students to do research on their phones. There are a variety of art apps available where students can look up famous works of art. It is much easier to have students do this right in the art studio, rather than trying to reserve a computer lab.
Chris also uses cell phones in his photography class. He says that the class has evolved over the years, and now cell phone photography is a major component. Since many cell phones now have sophisticated cameras, he is able to help his students learn how to take impressive cell phone pictures. He also uses apps such as Photoshop Express to edit the photos. Chris says that, since most people use their cell phones as their main camera now, he enjoys teaching students how to use their phones to take better pictures.
The high school's policies on cell phones made it easy for Chris to incorporate cell phones into his classroom. A few years ago the high school principal decided that cell phones would be allowed in the hallways and in classes (at the discretion of the teacher). Chris says that, because students are allowed to use their phones when appropriate and are often using them for class-related activities, he has not had to deal with any cell phone issues in his classes. He has not had to take a phone away, come across a student using their phone inappropriately, or any such issues. Chris appreciates that the principal trusts teachers to use their judgement when it comes to cell phones in their classes.
When I asked Chris if he plans on using cell phones with his student next year, he responded "absolutely!". Chris has been able to incorporate cell phones into his class in a meaningful way, and he has seen wonderful results.