Technology in classrooms is becoming more and more common throughout American schools. Everything from new devices aimed to help students learn, new games for students to play in order to learn about specific topics and new applications like apps on cellphones that can be used to enhance students’ participation and engagement in the classrooms. Technology is redefining the traditional classroom and offering a variety of opportunities for both teachers and students alike. Teachers must learn how to control the digital tools being used in their classrooms in order for technology to be a useful tool in the classroom and not a hindrance.

This TEDx talk by Scott Widman helps explain that technology is always improving its usefulness in the classrooms, as well as being a dangerous distraction for students. Widman goes on to state that technology is not solely a good or bad thing, and that it’s a tool that needs to be managed in the classroom as a productive means of learning. Widman mentions how cell phones can be used by students to do extensive research on a topic that they wouldn’t be able to do in a classroom setting otherwise, which is a very good use of technology. Widman also mentions that technology can easily be a distraction in the classroom like students playing games or watching unrelated videos on their phones, or more commonly these days, students watching and creating TikToks during class. This video as well as these examples of how technology can be a help or a hindrance shows that it’s all about controlling your classroom so that students can’t be distracted by cellphones or other technology.

This YouTube video by Sarah Hofer from BOLD helps highlight some of the uses of digital tools in the classroom, as well as some of the ways that digital tools can fall flat. The first use of digital tools Hofer explains is its ability to teach students a concept through a more visible example, and example of this given in the video is that an application on an electronic device can slow down and show how Vaporization works, something that a teacher in a classroom might have a hard time visualizing with their students because the process is so quick, and invisible. Another great feature that some digital tools can provide is the detailed feedback they can give to students and teachers, teachers can look over student’s online applications and see what students are struggling with more. Hofer also discusses some of the risks associated with digital tools as well as online learning. Hofer confirms that the lack of digital tools in a classroom or at home through online learning can be a hindrance to students. Students who don’t have access to online resources and digital tools can have trouble with projects or take-home assignments if they don’t have the digital tools necessary to complete their assignments. Hofer stresses that students need to have access to these digital tools in order to not be held back by their technology limitations.

In this video, the creator’s “Common Sense Education” discusses the importance of dealing with digital tools as a distraction in the classroom. The first solution they propose is to not completely ban students from having their cell phones in the classroom, instead you as a teacher should give students the opportunity to use their phones in a useful manner when available like researching project topics or collaborating with other students. The video also suggests that you don’t make students using their phones in class into a bigger deal than it needs to be, yes you should keep students on task and off their phones whenever they’re doing something that doesn’t require digital tools, but turning something like telling a student to put their phone away into a bigger deal than it is can lead to an unhealthy learning environment. Students learn best from teachers that they like and respect, and losing the trust of your students over them checking their phone every once in a while can be a poor way to lose that trust they have in you as an educator.


The article “Cell Phones as Classroom Tools” by Greg Kulowiec highlights some of the useful applications and ways that teachers use cell phones in their classrooms. The first way Kulowiec suggests utilizing cell phones in the classroom is by using them as “Classroom response systems”. This means allowing students to use their phones in order to answer questions asked by the teacher or professor on teacher-generated polls. Allowing students to silently answer questions, can give students more confidence to answer questions that they might know without having to answer and potentially get the question wrong in front of the whole class. Whenever a teacher asks a question to the entire classroom and there is a few seconds of silence, oftentimes there are a couple of students who know the answer, or think they know the answer and are too nervous or afraid the answer the question in front of the whole class. Kulowiec suggests that Poll Everywhere (a Cellphone App) can be used by teachers to get more answers to a question they asked, as well as get an answer from all their students instead of just a few. Asking questions on Poll Everywhere and then having the entire class answer it can also give the teacher a better understanding of the whole and doesn’t have a good understanding of topic. Applications like this that allow more students to answer the questions that teachers have can be a positive way that digital tools affect a classroom.

More and more ways of using different digital tools are coming out every year, there will always be new and interesting ways to teach students in the classrooms. Teachers must learn how to control the digital tools being used in their classrooms in order for technology to be a useful tool in the classroom and not a hindrance.

Works Cited:

Widman, Scott. “Technology, the Best or Worst Thing for Education | Scott Widman | Tedxyouth@bspr.” YouTube, October 21, 2019.

RobSterner, and Ctq. “4 Things You’ll Miss by Banning Cellphones in Your Classroom.” Center for Teaching Quality #CTQCollab, January 12, 2021.

Hofer, Sarah. “Using Digital Tools to Transform the Classroom.” YouTube, October 20, 2020.

“Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.” YouTube, October 5, 2016.

Kulowiec, Greg. “Cell Phones as Classroom Tools.” Accessed May 9, 2023.