Technology Integration

14 Smart Ways to Use Smartphone Cameras in the Classroom

Thanks to smartphones, areas like PBL and STEM learning call for imaginative and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Smartphone cameras are becoming more powerful than they've ever been. Thanks to smartphones, the digital camera is getting a serious run for its money. With a smartphone camera you can look forward to features like plenty of megapixels, image stabilization, and improved low-light photo capability. Videos are also better than they've ever been.

It's a growing trend, and one we can make good use of in education. All these great advances in technology have exceptional uses in the classroom.

Students who have the current technology (or will be snatching up the new) can access these powerful tools for producing great school projects. 

Areas like PBL and STEM learning call for imaginative and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Classroom Ideas for Smartphone Cameras

Below are some useful ways to use smartphone cameras in the classroom.

1. Instant Notes—Use a smartphone camera to snap clear pictures of lecture notes for later reference.

2. Digital Storytelling—Stories come alive using digital photography. Smartphone cameras can take excellent storybook shots you can add effects to later on.

3. Video Docs—Shooting a documentary-style project with a smartphone is an edgy and artistic way to tell your story. You can also try shooting an ad or commercial for a media studies class using the same technique.

4. Video Podcasts—Use your camera's video to take footage while recording vlogs or video cast episodes.

5. Tutorial Making—This is a great way to check for understanding of a certain topic. Have students create either a step-by-step visual guide or video tutorial using their smartphone cameras.

6. Science in Motion—Objects in motion make a great video project idea for science class. You can also use it for dissection projects, where the camera needs to get a nice quick zoom on key stages of the process.

7. Story Chains—This is a visual take on the classic chain story exercise. One student begins with a photograph (either real or staged) and places a caption underneath it. The next student adds a new picture and caption to keep the impromptu story going, and so on.

8. Photo Collages—Art classes can become platforms for digital image display.

9. Scanning Documents—The camera of a smartphone can be used as a scanner. It's not the same quality as a full-size scanner, but it does the job.

10. Visual Diaries—Use images to create a visual record of a personal or academic journey of your choice. Check out the Chase Jarvis book The Best Camera is The One That's With You for inspiration.

11. Portfolio Additions—Using smartphone cameras is a great way to piece together special sections for a student's portfolio. This is a great way for students to exercise their organizational skills.

12. Photo Research—Using smartphone cameras to take archival photos and footage can greatly enhance research projects.

13. Photo Editing—The photo enhancement capabilities on smartphone cameras are getting just as impressive as the cameras themselves. Photography classes can feature great lessons on in-camera photo editing projects.

14. Presentations—Use your smartphone camera for making great presentations. They can be staged, or completely off the cuff (e.g. on a filed trip somewhere).

Smartphone Cameras in the Classroom: Resources