Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to 7.1 Discuss how student immersion in social media impacts teaching and learning in

Learning Outcomes
After reading this chapter, you should be able to

7.1 Discuss how student immersion in social media impacts teaching and learning in the
classroom
7.2 Evaluate the pros and cons for using smartphones in the classroom
7.3 Explain how teachers can help students manage information overload
7.4 Explain how using the Internet for teaching can support learning
7.5 Explain the importance of teaching about Internet safety
7.6 Analyze how learning during the Covid-19 pandemic was impacted by the digital divide.
7.7 Explain how assistive technology in the classroom can benefit students with disabilities
InTASC Standards

Standard 3: Learning Environments
Standard 5: Application of Content
Standard 8: Instructional Strategies
Introduction

Communication and access to information has been radically transformed in the 21st century.
While the technology revolution began decades ago, access to sources of information through
the Internet and the use of social media have inundated our culture and our world, creating an
environment vastly different from the one that existed only 10 years ago. Far-reaching changes
in digital technologies have produced large shifts in our ways of thinking and behaving, leading
us to reconsider the act of teaching and learning in light of how we use digital technology. The
Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 drastically altered how we think about technology and teaching and
learning, as in-person education was replaced in most areas of the country with remote teaching
and learning using a variety of electronic devices.

Mobile devices allow for accessing the Internet wirelessly and constantly. How often do you
text? Shop online? Check Facebook? Use Instagram? Snapchat? Twitter? TikTok? The
smartphone has also given way to an explosion in teens’ media consumption, and the rise of
media multitasking habits has followed. Ninety-five percent of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they
have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are “almost constantly” on the Internet. The
vast majority of cellphone-using teens say their phone is a way to just pass time, with
nine-in-ten saying they often or sometimes use it this way, according to a Pew Research Center
survey of 13- to 17-year-olds conducted in 2018. Similarly, large shares of teen cellphone users
say they at least sometimes use their phone to connect with other people (84%) or learn new
things (83%). For many teens, phones have become a vital part of their daily routine, and their
relationship with their devices can be complicated. Seventy percent of the teens surveyed said
they check for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up, and over half of them reveal
feeling anxious when they are not with their phones (Schaeffer, 2019).

With access to the Internet and social media apps in the palm of their hands, today’s tweens
and teens live very different daily lives than their predecessors. The students born between

1995 and 2014 in every corner of the nation and in every type of household, rich or poor, of
every ethnic background, are living their lives on their smartphones. Where there are cell
towers, there are teens on smartphones (Twenge, 2017).

Teenagers send, on average, about 4,000 text messages a month, with girls texting over 1,000
more messages per month than their male peers. Teens connect through social media sites,
often experiencing the need to be connected as a form of “addiction.” Understanding how our
students are spending their time with their devices requires us to reconsider how we teach and
how students learn, perhaps integrating their devices in meaningful ways. In this chapter, we
explore the possibilities, pitfalls, and advantages of engaging students in digital technologies in
school and at home.

Until the Covid-19 pandemic we could assert that, while all aspects of daily life have changed so
dramatically, the design and conditions of classroom learning and teaching remained somewhat
unchanged. I say somewhat because iPads, Chromebooks, and other tablets, like Kindle Fire,
had made their way into many public and private school classrooms alongside wireless laptops,
and some teachers seized the opportunity to engage their students in new learning experiences
with these devices. A large number of schools have classrooms that use electronic whiteboards,
and since the pandemic, many teachers use portable wireless devices as part of their daily
teaching routines. Until the pandemic, however, instruction lagged far behind the advances in
technology. That was and to some extent remains most pronounced in poorer school districts
where the digital divide is most apparent. This refers to the “haves” and the “have-nots” in
education, as some schools are more likely to be able to afford the latest technologies.

This chapter addresses the ways information, knowledge, communication, and understanding
are redefined in this era of unparalleled digital access. It underscores the fact that the same
inequities that have dogged U.S. education since its earliest days persist at the current time,
highlighted by the experience of teaching and learning during the Covid-19 school shutdown. It
is important to keep in mind that even though the Internet holds the promise of infinite
knowledge, what gets delivered more often than not is infinite information (Orenstein, 2009).
Sometimes, when we are inundated with data, it is difficult to make sense of it and connect to
that which is most important. It falls to the classroom teacher, in any grade level and in any
subject, to ask himself or herself, “What is the best way to make use of whiteboards,
Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, streaming videos, and other communication tools that are
available to my students?”

For some teachers, it was overwhelming to answer this question, but to ignore what is available
for teaching and learning in any area of the digital universe is to deny the way your students and
you spend time outside of school. Using technological devices to enhance teaching and learning
is one way of connecting to many students’ lived experiences. Making the technology
connection, however, was essential for all teachers when schools shut down in March 2020.
Teachers were asked to provide instruction by using remote electronic connections though
web-based platforms like Zoom or WebEx or Google Classroom. As these teachers return to
in-person teaching and learning, they are better able to provide the class with an experience, a

challenge, or data it could otherwise not have access to without remote technology. It is also a
challenge for teachers to interrogate their students’ use of smartphones and social media apps
and help them to use their devices responsibly. Hence, in addition to teaching with technology,
teachers must teach about technology.

STUDENTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Just over half of children in the United States—53%—now own a smartphone by the age of 11.
As early as 8 years old, in second grade, students are bringing smartphones to school. Your
future students, like yourselves, will spend a good deal of time on their smartphones, and as
they get older, they will be connected to social media sites that they use, in addition to texting to
connect with their peers. The most popular social media sites are Snapchat, TikTok, and
Instagram (See Figure 7.1).

Description
Figure 7.1 Most Popular Teen Social Media Sites

Source: Statista. (2022). Favorite Social Media Sites of US Teens as of Fall 2021. Published by
Statistica Research Department.
usage-of-us-teens-and-young-adults/

Reproduced with permission.
199242/social-media-and-networking-sites-used-by-us-teenagers/

Marc Prensky (2001) referred to people who have lived all their lives with online access and
digital communications as digital natives. It is now apparent that classroom teaching needs to
acknowledge and support the ways in which you and your students are digital natives, having
grown up with easy access to wireless Internet and a variety of apps that foster communication
and ask users to create content and post it online. Digital technology, especially smartphone
technology, is an integral part of our lives, and more and more, it is part of the work teachers do
as educators in the 21st century. Do not confuse digital natives, however, with digital learners.
Technology does not necessarily teach material, but it makes information and the possibilities
for learning more accessible and potentially more effective.

It is also important to acknowledge that today’s teens and tweens are in many ways less social
than their predecessors because their social life is lived on their phones. This has important
implications for encouraging healthy social dialogue in school and fostering teamwork
experiences that help students gain skills in face-to-face communication.

CLASSROOMS AND SMARTPHONES
Although smartphones have been around in the pockets and backpacks of the nation’s students
for several years, there remains no simple answer about what to do about them. This is a critical
juncture at which schools and districts need to establish policies concerning student smartphone
use by assessing the degree to which wireless mobile technology should influence the school
day. Since fewer elementary and middle school students carry smartphones, the issue began to

dominate the discourse of high schools. There is no national database on smartphone policies;
however, there are a variety of approaches, from abstinence to one day a week, or only at
lunchtime and after the end-of-day bell. There are schools that allow students to carry their
smartphones each day and follow the policies set down by their teachers in each subject.
Recently, elementary and middle schools have set policies limiting smartphone use and
requiring a student to obtain special permission to carry one to school. Despite this, some
middle school principals allow students to use their devices during lunch periods or in the
hallways. There does not appear to be a consensus, because there is a lack of research
exploring the effect of smartphone use on academic achievement.

Clinical psychologist Richard Freed (2015) asserts that high levels of smartphone use by teens
often have a detrimental effect on achievement because teen phone use is dominated by
entertainment, as opposed to educational applications, or apps. Others argue that smartphone
use for learning could be a great equalizer in terms of giving children from all sorts of
socioeconomic backgrounds the same device with the same potential. At least some teachers
have experienced smartphone use in the classroom as less effective for students with low
literacy skills who find it challenging to use smartphones (Barnwell, 2016). While a Stanford
study (Darling-Hammond et al., 2014) of at-risk students’ learning with technology concluded
that providing one-to-one access to devices in school provides the most benefit, the study did
not mention smartphones as a choice tool for greater academic success. As you will see in the
next section, the pandemic of 2020 forced many school districts to provide electronic devices
such as tablets and Chromebooks to each student in the district. This one-on-one computing is
in sharp contrast to days when classroom sets of laptops were available on a rolling basis at
many schools. Now, students use their devices daily, taking them home sometimes and
returning to school with them the next day.

Having an Internet-enabled device in the hands of every student can be a powerful tool for
learning. The National Education Association has a link for using smartphones in the classroom,
and teachers have found many apps that enhance student learning and performance (Graham,
n.d.). There are apps that can be used to assist students with getting organized, apps that help
teach history or science or mathematics. Many other apps provide access to information, while
video capabilities on smart devices enable students to videotape their results in a science lab,
for example, and post it to a class website. Smartphones’ array of reading and writing apps are
also handy for doing research, sharing blogs, creating podcasts, creating videos, and
maintaining journals. Teachers who have success using smartphones in the classroom argue
that the intentional use of these devices for productive work has much to teach young people.

Learning Outcomes
After reading this chapter, you should be able to

7.1 Discuss how student immersion in social media impacts teaching and learning in the
classroom
7.2 Evaluate the pros and cons for using smartphones in the classroom
7.3 Explain how teachers can help students manage information overload

7.4 Explain how using the Internet for teaching can support learning
7.5 Explain the importance of teaching about Internet safety
7.6 Analyze how learning during the Covid-19 pandemic was impacted by the digital divide.
7.7 Explain how assistive technology in the classroom can benefit students with disabilities
InTASC Standards

Standard 3: Learning Environments
Standard 5: Application of Content
Standard 8: Instructional Strategies
Introduction

Communication and access to information has been radically transformed in the 21st century.
While the technology revolution began decades ago, access to sources of information through
the Internet and the use of social media have inundated our culture and our world, creating an
environment vastly different from the one that existed only 10 years ago. Far-reaching changes
in digital technologies have produced large shifts in our ways of thinking and behaving, leading
us to reconsider the act of teaching and learning in light of how we use digital technology. The
Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 drastically altered how we think about technology and teaching and
learning, as in-person education was replaced in most areas of the country with remote teaching
and learning using a variety of electronic devices.

Mobile devices allow for accessing the Internet wirelessly and constantly. How often do you
text? Shop online? Check Facebook? Use Instagram? Snapchat? Twitter? TikTok? The
smartphone has also given way to an explosion in teens’ media consumption, and the rise of
media multitasking habits has followed. Ninety-five percent of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they
have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are “almost constantly” on the Internet. The
vast majority of cellphone-using teens say their phone is a way to just pass time, with
nine-in-ten saying they often or sometimes use it this way, according to a Pew Research Center
survey of 13- to 17-year-olds conducted in 2018. Similarly, large shares of teen cellphone users
say they at least sometimes use their phone to connect with other people (84%) or learn new
things (83%). For many teens, phones have become a vital part of their daily routine, and their
relationship with their devices can be complicated. Seventy percent of the teens surveyed said
they check for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up, and over half of them reveal
feeling anxious when they are not with their phones (Schaeffer, 2019).

With access to the Internet and social media apps in the palm of their hands, today’s tweens
and teens live very different daily lives than their predecessors. The students born between
1995 and 2014 in every corner of the nation and in every type of household, rich or poor, of
every ethnic background, are living their lives on their smartphones. Where there are cell
towers, there are teens on smartphones (Twenge, 2017).

Teenagers send, on average, about 4,000 text messages a month, with girls texting over 1,000
more messages per month than their male peers. Teens connect through social media sites,
often experiencing the need to be connected as a form of “addiction.” Understanding how our

students are spending their time with their devices requires us to reconsider how we teach and
how students learn, perhaps integrating their devices in meaningful ways. In this chapter, we
explore the possibilities, pitfalls, and advantages of engaging students in digital technologies in
school and at home.

Until the Covid-19 pandemic we could assert that, while all aspects of daily life have changed so
dramatically, the design and conditions of classroom learning and teaching remained somewhat
unchanged. I say somewhat because iPads, Chromebooks, and other tablets, like Kindle Fire,
had made their way into many public and private school classrooms alongside wireless laptops,
and some teachers seized the opportunity to engage their students in new learning experiences
with these devices. A large number of schools have classrooms that use electronic whiteboards,
and since the pandemic, many teachers use portable wireless devices as part of their daily
teaching routines. Until the pandemic, however, instruction lagged far behind the advances in
technology. That was and to some extent remains most pronounced in poorer school districts
where the digital divide is most apparent. This refers to the “haves” and the “have-nots” in
education, as some schools are more likely to be able to afford the latest technologies.

This chapter addresses the ways information, knowledge, communication, and understanding
are redefined in this era of unparalleled digital access. It underscores the fact that the same
inequities that have dogged U.S. education since its earliest days persist at the current time,
highlighted by the experience of teaching and learning during the Covid-19 school shutdown. It
is important to keep in mind that even though the Internet holds the promise of infinite
knowledge, what gets delivered more often than not is infinite information (Orenstein, 2009).
Sometimes, when we are inundated with data, it is difficult to make sense of it and connect to
that which is most important. It falls to the classroom teacher, in any grade level and in any
subject, to ask himself or herself, “What is the best way to make use of whiteboards,
Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, streaming videos, and other communication tools that are
available to my students?”

For some teachers, it was overwhelming to answer this question, but to ignore what is available
for teaching and learning in any area of the digital universe is to deny the way your students and
you spend time outside of school. Using technological devices to enhance teaching and learning
is one way of connecting to many students’ lived experiences. Making the technology
connection, however, was essential for all teachers when schools shut down in March 2020.
Teachers were asked to provide instruction by using remote electronic connections though
web-based platforms like Zoom or WebEx or Google Classroom. As these teachers return to
in-person teaching and learning, they are better able to provide the class with an experience, a
challenge, or data it could otherwise not have access to without remote technology. It is also a
challenge for teachers to interrogate their students’ use of smartphones and social media apps
and help them to use their devices responsibly. Hence, in addition to teaching with technology,
teachers must teach about technology.

STUDENTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Just over half of children in the United States—53%—now own a smartphone by the age of 11.
As early as 8 years old, in second grade, students are bringing smartphones to school. Your
future students, like yourselves, will spend a good deal of time on their smartphones, and as
they get older, they will be connected to social media sites that they use, in addition to texting to
connect with their peers. The most popular social media sites are Snapchat, TikTok, and
Instagram (See Figure 7.1).

Description
Figure 7.1 Most Popular Teen Social Media Sites

Source: Statista. (2022). Favorite Social Media Sites of US Teens as of Fall 2021. Published by
Statistica Research Department.
usage-of-us-teens-and-young-adults/

Reproduced with permission.
199242/social-media-and-networking-sites-used-by-us-teenagers/

Marc Prensky (2001) referred to people who have lived all their lives with online access and
digital communications as digital natives. It is now apparent that classroom teaching needs to
acknowledge and support the ways in which you and your students are digital natives, having
grown up with easy access to wireless Internet and a variety of apps that foster communication
and ask users to create content and post it online. Digital technology, especially smartphone
technology, is an integral part of our lives, and more and more, it is part of the work teachers do
as educators in the 21st century. Do not confuse digital natives, however, with digital learners.
Technology does not necessarily teach material, but it makes information and the possibilities
for learning more accessible and potentially more effective.

It is also important to acknowledge that today’s teens and tweens are in many ways less social
than their predecessors because their social life is lived on their phones. This has important
implications for encouraging healthy social dialogue in school and fostering teamwork
experiences that help students gain skills in face-to-face communication.

CLASSROOMS AND SMARTPHONES
Although smartphones have been around in the pockets and backpacks of the nation’s students
for several years, there remains no simple answer about what to do about them. This is a critical
juncture at which schools and districts need to establish policies concerning student smartphone
use by assessing the degree to which wireless mobile technology should influence the school
day. Since fewer elementary and middle school students carry smartphones, the issue began to
dominate the discourse of high schools. There is no national database on smartphone policies;
however, there are a variety of approaches, from abstinence to one day a week, or only at
lunchtime and after the end-of-day bell. There are schools that allow students to carry their
smartphones each day and follow the policies set down by their teachers in each subject.
Recently, elementary and middle schools have set policies limiting smartphone use and
requiring a student to obtain special permission to carry one to school. Despite this, some

middle school principals allow students to use their devices during lunch periods or in the
hallways. There does not appear to be a consensus, because there is a lack of research
exploring the effect of smartphone use on academic achievement.

Clinical psychologist Richard Freed (2015) asserts that high levels of smartphone use by teens
often have a detrimental effect on achievement because teen phone use is dominated by
entertainment, as opposed to educational applications, or apps. Others argue that smartphone
use for learning could be a great equalizer in terms of giving children from all sorts of
socioeconomic backgrounds the same device with the same potential. At least some teachers
have experienced smartphone use in the classroom as less effective for students with low
literacy skills who find it challenging to use smartphones (Barnwell, 2016). While a Stanford
study (Darling-Hammond et al., 2014) of at-risk students’ learning with technology concluded
that providing one-to-one access to devices in school provides the most benefit, the study did
not mention smartphones as a choice tool for greater academic success. As you will see in the
next section, the pandemic of 2020 forced many school districts to provide electronic devices
such as tablets and Chromebooks to each student in the district. This one-on-one computing is
in sharp contrast to days when classroom sets of laptops were available on a rolling basis at
many schools. Now, students use their devices daily, taking them home sometimes and
returning to school with them the next day.

Having an Internet-enabled device in the hands of every student can be a powerful tool for
learning. The National Education Association has a link for using smartphones in the classroom,
and teachers have found many apps that enhance student learning and performance (Graham,
n.d.). There are apps that can be used to assist students with getting organized, apps that help
teach history or science or mathematics. Many other apps provide access to information, while
video capabilities on smart devices enable students to videotape their results in a science lab,
for example, and post it to a class website. Smartphones’ array of reading and writing apps are
also handy for doing research, sharing blogs, creating podcasts, creating videos, and
maintaining journals. Teachers who have success using smartphones in the classroom argue
that the intentional use of these devices for productive work has much to teach young people.

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