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6 tips for teachers on using mobile phones in classrooms

Professor of Education (Futures) for the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, and Language Studies (WELS), Peter Twining, provides his six tips for teachers on using mobile phones in classrooms.

In a previous article, I argued that teachers should actively encourage the use of mobile phones in schools. This is not a trivial task. My research on the use of mobile devices in schools in the UK and Australia, and on children’s digital practices outside school, suggests practical methods for teachers to effectively roll out a ‘Bring Your Own (BYO)’ device policy, which includes the use of mobile phones. Here are six tips on how teachers can bring mobile phones into the classroom constructively.

Professor of Education (Futures), Peter Twining

Professor of Education (Futures), Peter Twining

1. Be guided by your educational goals

Be clear about how the mobile devices will be used to enhance students’ learning. You should explain this to both your parents and students so that they appreciate the benefits.

2. Deal with the equality and equity issues

Ensure all the pupils have access to an internet enabled device – provide a device for those few who don’t have one of their own. Provide great Wi-Fi access so that students choose to use your WiFi rather than their own 4G, as this will avoid equity issues for those who cannot afford unlimited 4G and gives you some insight into what they are accessing.

3. Show that you value the use of mobile devices in your lessons

Build the use of mobile phones into all your plans. Treat these technologies as important and useful tools to enhance learning – if you don’t value their educational use then pupils and parents won’t either.

4. Get your pupils on side

Encourage your class to decide the rules for appropriate mobile device use and what reasonable sanctions would be. If they want to be able to use their mobile devices in school then they should help prevent behaviour that might put that in jeopardy.

5. Let the pupils themselves choose when to use their devices

Have their devices visible on the desk when not in use so they are readily available if needed and to reduce ‘surreptitious’ use. Focus on the outcomes you expected rather than how those outcomes are to be achieved

6. You are not there for IT support

Focus on what you want your pupils to learn and don’t get drawn into sorting out their technical problems. This is much easier if they are using their own device as they won’t assume you know how to use it.

Implementing these six suggestions involves trusting pupils and giving them a degree of autonomy. This needs careful planning and implementation. It is not straightforward and will not magically eradicate issues such as sexting and online bullying; however, as evidenced by teachers who have made the transition, it can have many benefits, such as enhancing students’ engagement and motivation.


Professor of Education (Futures), Peter Twining, is passionate about developing education systems that are fit for our rapidly changing world. Much of his research has focused on the use of mobile devices, including children’s use of digital technology outside school, and digital technology strategies inside schools in the UK and Australia.

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About Author

Christine is a manager in the Media Relations team within the Marcomms Unit at the OU. She is an experienced BBC journalist, sub-editor and news editor and has a background in regional newspapers. After moving to PR she worked as a press officer for the Zoological Society of London. She has a BSc in Social Sciences with Politics from The Open University; she focuses on STEM stories and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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