Cell phone charging stations offers convenience and reliability to busy college students across the nation. After having his smartphone die several times at school, Purdue University student Mike Young ran for student government with the promise of bringing cell phone charging stations to buildings throughout the campus. Young’s fellow senators identified with his story, and his plan to bring cell phone charging stations to campus was adopted and expanded.
Smartphones are an important and valuable part of the college campus experience. According to the Pew Research Center, 94% of all people aged 18-29 own a smartphone in the U.S. Love them or hate them, cell phones have changed the way students interact with the world—including their education.
The omnipresence of cell phones on college campuses and the benefits they bring to students should lead campus administrators to strongly consider providing accessible charging stations across campuses. Most institutions have adopted campus-wide WiFi, but too many have ignored the necessity of keeping students’ devices charged.
Like the students at Purdue, individuals on every campus fear running out of battery in their smartphones, a condition playfully referred to as “Low Battery Anxiety.” While some may laugh at this idea, for college students who rely on their cell phones to get by, the dread of a dead iPhone is real.
Thanks to smartphones, college students aren’t the only thing changing: classrooms are changing, the concept of accessibility is changing, and campus culture is changing. Let’s take a look at how having a charged smartphone can make students more successful on campus.
Smartphones Are a College Student’s Best Friend
It’s 2018, and yet people are still debating the pros and cons of cell phones in the college classroom. The writing is on the wall: smartphones are already on campus and they’re here to stay. And as smartphone capabilities become more robust, students will come to rely even more heavily on them.
Despite the popular perception of cell phones equaling mindless social media use, college students do more than scroll through Instagram when they’re on campus. According to recent research, college students have adopted smartphones in their scholarly lives as well. When polled, 94% of students said that they would like to use their cellphones in class for academic purposes.
That same study also found that 75% of students “believe using personal devices in the classroom has improved their ability to learn and retain information.” Usually, cell phones are referred to as “distractions” in the classroom. But for a generation who was raised on iPads and smartphones, not having access to this technology hampers the ways they have learned to process and assimilate information.
So, why are students so keen to use their smartphones and tablets during class?
1. Productivity Apps
During lectures, students are often given tons of information to learn–information that may or may not be in their (expensive) textbooks. To help them remember, students are turning towards productivity apps like Evernote to keep track of it all. Even something as simple as the cell phone camera helps during lectures, as 58% of students use their phones to take pictures of lecture slides.
2. Search Engines
With a smartphone or tablet in hand, students have a way to quickly look up information discussed during lecture without interrupting the professor. In fact, 41% of students report using Google to help them learn more about a topic during class.
It’s no secret that textbook costs are sky-high for students. After decades of rising textbook costs, digital textbooks and materials are becoming more widely adopted. For some textbooks, this can mean the difference between a $200 physical copy and an $80 digital copy.
Not only do digital textbooks lighten the load on students’ bank accounts, they lighten the load on their backs. Many students carry around backpacks accounting for up to 30% of their body weight due to heavy textbooks, but digital textbooks reduce that to the weight of an iPad or smartphone.
According to the Pew Research Center, one in five U.S. adults who make under $30,000 per year rely solely on their smartphones as their internet access point. Students are no exception. For these students in particular, a fully charged cell phone is incredibly important.
Cell phone charging stations like ChargeTech’s 6 Bay Cell Phone Charging Locker allow students to securely and quickly charge their devices while on campus, so they don’t have to fear losing access to their digital school resources.
Cell Phone Charging Stations Bring Affordable Accessibility to the Classroom
Opponents of cell phones in the classroom would point out that all of these things can be done without cell phones. But one of the things that gets lost in the cell phone-classroom discussion is the role this technology plays in accessibility.
The abundant capabilities of today’s smartphones are making it easier for students with disabilities to participate in higher education. According to the Department of Education, nearly 13% of public school students have a disability. Since the effect of a disability on students’ learning is unique in every case, the American Council on declared that “the ability of new technologies to be customized to an individual’s specific abilities offers amazing potential to tap every student’s (and employee’s) potential.”
There are several ways that smartphones are bringing accessible learning to students with disabilities:
1. Speech-to-text technology
Apps like Ava are helping deaf and hearing impaired students keep up with what’s said in class and in conversations with their peers. Universities are continuing to invest in smartphone-based live captioning for university events like football games and graduation ceremonies.
2. Screen Readers
For visually impaired or blind students, heavy reading loads present another challenge. Screen readers, or text-to-speech apps like the KNFB Reader for iOS, allow students to easily listen to printed text by using the smartphone camera to scan and convert text.
3. Dictation Technology
Apps like Dragon Anywhere are helping students with mobility disabilities compose professional documents on their phones, tablets, and laptops when typing is difficult.
4. Electronic Note-Taking
Electronic note-taking on tablets and laptops is a common accommodation for students with cognitive disabilities like autism spectrum disorder. Such technology can help these students focus and study more effectively.
More apps and technologies are emerging every day to help students with disabilities excel in college classrooms, making fully charged smartphones and tablets even more important. Schools can help ensure equal access to cell phone charging stations with an ADA-compliant Power Table Charging Station 8 from ChargeTech.
Smartphones Can Make Teaching More Interactive
Students aren’t the only ones to benefit from smartphones and tablets in the classroom. Teachers are putting smartphones to use in the classroom for better learning outcomes.
Contrary to the perception of cell phones being a total distraction, research suggests that while cell phones may be visually distracting, information is still being acquired by students verbally. In the past, professors used handheld clickers to post interactive questions that kept students engaged during lecture. Now, mobile apps like Socrative are adding new levels of complexity to the mix, by allowing, for example, teachers to “send an image of a heart to students’ screens, [then asking] the learners to tap where the aorta is and receive an instant heat map of the responses.”
These new levels of interactivity during class will only grow as augmented reality becomes viable and widely adopted. According to campustechnology.com, immersive learning technology like augmented reality is one of the top educational tech trends to watch in 2018.
A recent survey found that “nearly all faculty (95%) reported that they assign homework that requires technology use.” Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are becoming a primary way for students to interact with learning materials. Digital textbooks, especially when formatted for tablet use, increase student engagement.
As teachers become more reliant on technology to supplement their teaching, the importance of smartphones and tablets for students in the classroom will continue to increase.
Smartphones Are Changing College Campus Culture
Smartphones are a critical part of the entire college experience, from within the classroom to hanging out in the rec center. Students use apps like Facebook and Instagram to connect to their peers while on campus. Other apps like Tapingo allow students to purchase food and skip the lines through their phones while on campus, so they don’t arrive late to class.
With the rising costs associated with college, more students are commuting to campus to avoid the cost of on-campus housing. Commuter students don’t have the benefit of a room to return to between classes, and it’s therefore “crucial that universities make more active efforts to ensure that people living off campus feel included in the university community.”
Whether students are commuting or living on/around school, they spend a lot of time on campus between attending classes, studying, participating in student clubs, and meeting with professors. As students come to rely more and more on their cell phones for the college experience, a full charge becomes more important. College administrators might consider following Purdue University’s lead by making cell phone charging stations available to students across campus.
Not only will this lead to less low battery anxiety for students, but it will help ensure that students who need to use digital textbooks or accessibility apps are never without them during class. Whereas a fully-charged smartphone was once considered a luxury, it’s now an invaluable part of the learning experience for many.
Check out ChargeTech’s extensive lineup of cell phone charging stations (that can also work for tablets) to help facilitate student success on your campus.