Schoolchildren should be allowed to use mobile phones in the classroom to boost education standards, according to researchers.
Despite fears that mobiles and MP3 players are a huge distraction, it is claimed schools can get the most out of pupils by giving them full-time access to the latest gadgets.
Academics said mobiles could be used for a wide range of educational purposes, including creating short movies, setting homework reminders, recording a teacher reading a poem and timing science experiments.
New-style “smartphones”, which can connect to the internet, also allowed pupils to access revision websites, log into the school email system, or transfer electronic files between school and home.
Employing them as part of day-to-day lessons boosts pupils' motivation levels, it was claimed.
The conclusions comes despite high-profile calls from teaching unions for an all-out ban on the use of mobiles in schools.
It is claimed that the technology is a distraction from pupils' work and fuels “cyber-bullying” – as children take compromising pictures and video clips of teachers or pupils and distribute them to friends.
Police also warn that carrying mobile phones heightens the risk of being mugged.
Some schools have already imposed bans while others force pupils to turn them off during the day.
Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, from Nottingham university, who led the research, said: “While the eventual aim should be to lift blanket bans on phones we do not recommend immediate, whole-school change.
“Instead we believe that teachers, students and the wider community should work together to develop policies that will enable this powerful new learning tool to be used safely.
“We hope that, in future, mobile phone use will be as natural as using any other technology in school.”
Researchers spent nine months analysing lessons for 14 to 16-year-olds in five schools in Cambridgeshire, West Berkshire and Nottingham.
As part of the study – being presented at Thursday's British Educational Research Association's annual conference – teachers were encouraged to allow pupils to use their own mobiles or new generation smartphones in lessons.
According to researchers, pupils gained confidence by using technology familiar to them, using it in a number of different ways.
One teacher told academics: “Students like mobiles and they know how to use them.
Using this technology gives them more freedom to express themselves without needing to be constantly supervised.”
Other teachers found that pupils who lacked confidence gained most from the project.
Dr Hartnell-Young said: “After their hands-on experience, almost all pupils said they had enjoyed the project and felt more motivated.”
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