Last updated: August 28. 2014 11:30PM - 372 Views
By Devon Hailey Guest columnist

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Back to school can be exciting, but also an overwhelming time for students, parents and teachers. Whether students forget to check for homework assignments or miss class due to illness, students don’t want to fall behind. Access to information and connecting with teachers and other students is just a click away with the help of smartphones and tablets. According to a recent survey by U.S. Cellular1, 74 percent of households with children under the age of 18 have at least one tablet. Tablets and smartphones are becoming a simple tool to ensure students keep making the grade.

Tablets are also being used in the classroom; learning apps, eBooks, online educational videos and Internet access can all enhance the learning experience. With reliable mobile access to the Internet on a robust network such as a 4G LTE network through U.S. Cellular, teachers and students can effectively harness the full capability of this technology. According to a recent Student Mobile Device Survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 87 percent of students would like to use digital textbooks so they don’t have to carry so much in their backpacks. And half of those students surveyed use their pocket-friendly smartphones instead of tablets.

The learning experience for students is changing and involving technology like tablets and smartphones more and more each day

Students, teachers and parents can optimize their connected learning experience with the help of the following apps recommended by U.S. Cellular:

Skype (Android) / Facetime (iOS): These free Internet video calling services allow teachers and students to collaborate wherever they are. Teachers can bring guest speakers into class to discuss their expertise, thereby demonstrating how school subjects are relevant to real life. Students can take virtual field trips anywhere in the world. No permission slip required.

Teacher’s Assistant Pro: Featured in USA Today as one of the best teacher apps, Teacher’s Assistant Pro ($3.99 download) allows teachers to keep track of student actions, behaviors and achievements in the classroom. Using an iPhone 5s or iPad, teachers can record student infractions and accolades, create a detailed written description of the event, and communicate with parents, reducing time consuming paperwork.

Notability: This powerful note-taker app is free and allows iOS and Android users to complete worksheets, sketch ideas, keep a journal, integrate photos and record a lecture, and keep it all in one place. Use the search feature to quickly locate notes by title or content. Share with others using iCloud or Google Drive.

DropBox: This cloud-based file sharing and storage free app lets users circulate files from different locations over different networks. Turn in and return assignments, provide up-to-date syllabi from different locations quickly, and post grades securely and easily.

Powerful mobile devices running apps on reliable high-speed networks are the best way to prepare our kids and equip our teachers for effective learning in the future. After all, the students of today are likely to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

¹ Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2, 2013, 500 nationally representative online interviews were conducted among smartphone users in partnership with Maritz Research.

Additional data charges may apply. 4G LTE service provided through King Street Wireless, a partner of U.S. Cellular. LTE is a trademark of ETSI.

(Devon Hailey is store manager for U.S. Cellular in Clinton.)

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