Educators split on cellphones in class

Some view them
as learning tool;
others a distraction

Mia Hawes / Reporter

With technology expanding every year, rules of smartphone usage in classrooms have been changing. However, some professors and students have different thoughts on whether classrooms are the right place for technology use.

“Design of the learning experience drives the tools to use,” said Dr. Fernando Figueroa, provost/vice president of instruction and Student Services.

According to Nielsen research conducted by Concordia University, 74 percent of young adults own smartphones, up 15 percent from last year.

According to Apple, there are over 150,000 apps for educational and reference purposes. The company created a website called Apples in Education geared toward students from pre-k to college.

“I’ve had professors ask me to get my phone out before and look stuff up on it,” said Alia Elkhalili, biology major at Del Mar College.

“Smartphones belong in the classroom. Their name indicates their classroom application: to be ‘smart,’ ” said Clark Wilson, biochemistry major at the University of Texas in Austin.

“I do not mind students using their phones, and I have asked students to look up stuff on their phones for me,” said Susan Swan, English 1302 professor at Del Mar College.

According to, technology in classrooms helps students understand class material better, improve memory and increase interaction between students and teachers. Also, technology has helped students obtain new knowledge, without being pushed to learn it by teachers.

According to Wilson, if professors try to restrict smartphone use in classrooms, it limits students’ desire to learn. Smartphones have become a problem solving and educating necessity in society now. Without it students would not crave to learn new knowledge.

“I do think smartphones in the classroom are helpful. Since not all classrooms are equipped with computers, smartphones can do some amazing things for students,” said Dr. Veronica Pantoja, English professor at Del Mar College.

Even with new technology presenting itself, some professors and students still believe a classroom is not the place for it.

“I am old school, I prefer not to use technology in the classroom. I specifically request non-computer rooms,” Swan said.

“My class guideline is, if I’m talking students should not be texting. For the most part students comply, but this is becoming difficult to manage,” Pantoja said.

According to Pantoja, students are not realizing how discourteous it is to professors when they are texting instead of paying attention to the lecture.

“I might be compelled to ban the use of smartphones despite their benefits simply because some students can’t stop looking at them,” Pantoja said.

“I think it is a distraction; however, college students are adults and they’re only hurting themselves by using it,” said Amanda Cortez, journalism major at Del Mar College.

Some students believe it is their choice whether they use their phones in class or not, and some don’t believe teachers should tell them if they can or can’t use them.

“By removing a key component of today’s lifestyle from the classroom, students are disconnected from real-world applications of modern-day technology in problem solving,” Wilson said.

“I think if people want their phones out in class then they should. They are paying for their own education so if they want their phone out then why not,” Elkhalili said.

Still, with some students and professors disagreeing on whether smartphones should be allowed in classrooms, it all comes down to the question of whether it is being used for social or educating reasons.

“Tech for tech’s sake does not address learning. Tech for learning’s sake makes the whole educational enterprise work,” Figueroa said.

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