More than half of all schools in North America have banned cell phones and tablet computers from classrooms, because administrators believe it reduces distractions, and lowers the risk of cheating. But some schools are starting to rethink their position, and are now encouraging students to bring their mobile devices to class, and use them! Why? It’s all about saving money, and using technology the kids are already familiar with as a teaching tool. In fact, the trend’s becoming so common, it’s even got a name: BYOT – short for “Bring Your Own Technology.” 

Experts point out that 80 percent of kids own a cell phone by the time they’re 12 years old, and even the oldest, most basic smartphones have more computing power than the desktop computers a lot of schools own. It’s also much cheaper for schools to buy, say, iPad Touches to loan to kids who don’t have their own phones, than to put a new laptop on each desk. 

So, how are smartphones being used? 

Some in-school apps allow teachers to gather real-time information in class, like getting an answer from each student in math class to make sure everyone “gets” the lesson before they move on.

Mobile devices also allow students to more easily collaborate, because they can all log into the same site to contribute. 

Still, it doesn’t mean students can use their phones whenever they want. Most schools have strict usage rules. For example, kids can only use their devices with a teacher’s permission, they’re not allowed to surf the Internet, or access Facebook. And anyone who activates a device during a test can be suspended or expelled.