Many teachers would prefer their students keep their cell phones at home, but researchers at the University of Northern Iowa are working to integrate smartphones with classroom activities. U.N.I. computer science professor Stephen Hughes is part of a team developing software for the Android phone to be used in the college classroom.
“We’re…really looking at the questions teachers have and the way they interact with students and if we can use this technology to support this,” Hughes explained. Another U.N.I. professor, Ben Schafer, along with Hughes and two students, form the Collective Interaction Research Group (CIRG). They’re hoping to test their smartphone “classroom response system” in an actual classroom yet this year.
Hughes said the goal is to find how the smartphones can be used “collaboratively” in the classroom, rather than just for personal note taking. The system should allow students to use their phones to collectively respond to questions or solve problems posed by the teacher.
“You may have two or three students in the classroom who are (working through) different parts of a shared display, simultaneously, to achieve a certain result…balancing an equation, drawing a line or sketching a solution out,” Hughes said. “We’re looking at some of the ways that collaboration can be fostered through this technology.”
The group was awarded a grant from the Grow Iowa Value Fund to help finance the research.