When it comes time to get serious about his homework, 16-year-old Daniel Self doesn’t need a desktop, laptop or tablet. He takes his smartphone.
A junior at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School in North Carolina and a self-proclaimed procrastinator, Daniel says his phone is his saving grace, academically speaking. He used his phone to research and compose a slideshow on Donald Trump, a presentation on the architecture of the hangars and a creative writing assignment related to “Fahrenheit 451”. And because he’s with him wherever he goes, he can work on the bus, in the car, at lunch or at home.
Using a smartphone, he finds that he performs his tasks more easily than on what he calls his “bulky” laptop. “I’m a faster texter than a typist,” he recently wrote in an email sent from his LG smartphone.
Despite all the talk about teenage cell phone use and limiting screen time, Daniel and many other high school kids have made phones essential for doing their daily homework, classwork, and research projects. . Even when they have a computer or tablet handy, many students prefer to use a cell phone for projects that most adults wouldn’t undertake without a keyboard and mouse.
“The teaching profession has yet to catch up on the way students use devices,” says John Kim, a senior lecturer who teaches a course on technological innovations in education at Harvard Business School.