In the last few years, smartphones have moved quickly from banned to embraced in K12 schools as educators have realized that mobile learning devices engage students, enhance the teaching of 21st-century skills, and instantly check for understanding with student response applications. Districts have started upgrading their wireless networks to accommodate one-to-one technology initiatives, while others follow a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy. Service providers have started marketing phones to the education sector by turning off voice and text and charging for data only, limiting access to content on the Internet according to district specifications and offering 4G speeds, which are 10 times faster than 3G.
Smartphones vary in cost and features. Some models, equipped with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, can function as PCs, while others are for consuming content only. To help districts choose appropriate phones, service providers ask what age group the phones are for, what they will be used for, how much districts can afford to spend, and whether students need a camera. Plans are based on data consumed or on a monthly subscription rate, and E-Rate grants can help offset these costs for eligible schools. Here are a few options to consider in your district. Contact providers for pricing.
HTC Evo 4G
On the market for over a year, the HTC Evo is a cost-effective option for schools. This Android-powered smartphone features a 4.3-inch multitouch screen, dual cameras, an HD camcorder, and a kickstand for convenient consumption of video. This device can act as a mobile hotspot for up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Motorola Droid Razr
Verizon’s newest member of the Motorola Droid family, the Razr, is currently the slimmest smartphone on the market, features a 4.3-inch screen made of virtually unbreakable Corning Gorilla Glass. This new Motorola device monitors battery usage to extend battery life, can wirelessly access network devices and has an optional dock that turns the phone into a PC.
Motorola Photon 4G
Sprint's new Motorola smartphone has a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, dual cameras and a kickstand for hands-free viewing of videos. This new phone from Sprint operates like a computer, with a docking deck that charges the phone and allows users to attach a mouse, keyboard or HDMI-capable computer screen.
BlackBerry Torch 9810
AT&T’s new generation BlackBerry is equipped with a 1.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of storage. The BlackBerry Torch 9810 includes a QWERTY keyboard along with a full touchscreen display. Users can create high-quality digital resources with HD video recording and increased image resolution.
Other smartphones include: Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Epic 2, HTC Evo Shift, LG Nitro and Motorola Droid Bionic.