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Jennifer Teaches Us Something New

Written by Bill Laurienti

Many schools are wary about allowing smartphones in the classroom; often for good reason.

But we were recently reminded of another perspective on this issue. Jennifer, a student at Merrill Middle School in Denver, was working on her SmartLab HQ robotics project and was struggling with the computer-based programming interface.

The next day, she asked her Facilitator if she could take her smartphone out to show him something. She’d discovered and learned about a smartphone app she could use to control her robot.

Realizing that the computer–robot communication link was Bluetooth-based and, knowing that her smartphone used the same technology, Jennifer made this cognitive leap on her own.

She used her smartphone for many technology apps—so why should programming a robot be any different?

In retrospect, it seems obvious. Except it wasn’t. Not to most of us who discount the potential of smartphones as appropriate learning and productivity technology.

Today’s students approach technology with a different perspective and a different set of tools. Given the freedom to apply this perspective, they can solve problems and approach academic challenges in new and different ways; ways that educators cannot similarly intuit and therefore cannot teach.

We can foster this dynamic through the practice of student-led learning and putting technology in the hands of students. After all, isn’t this at the heart of 21st-century skills?

Thank you, Jennifer, for teaching us something new!

Bill Laurienti

Bill Laurienti is a Content Marketing Specialist at Creative Learning Systems. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education (English) from Colorado Mesa University and a Master of Arts in Secondary Teaching from the University of California's Rossier School of Education. Bill came to CLS after 10 years in the secondary classroom. He believes SmartLabs are important tools for engaging unengaged students and helping them access careers they might not otherwise have imagined.

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