Skip to main content

Mobile Phones: Not a Distraction in the Classroom But a Means of Engagement?

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Innovative Business Education Design for 21st Century Learning

Part of the book series: Advances in Business Education and Training ((ABET))


This chapter discusses whether innovative use of mobile technology (m-technology) in the classroom can engage and motivate students to recognise that “googling” is not the digital literacy research skill required for their Higher Education studies and the “information-centric workplace” of the Digital Age. Since 2013 the researchers have used m-technology, Padlet ( and Polleverywhere (, with students from an international partner institution, to engage and motivate them with digital literacy. Research methodology used qualitative and quantitative approaches, and research ethics guidelines of Sheffield Hallam University were complied with. The chapter considers the initial intervention and impact of an interactive learning workshop in 2013 using active learning pedagogy and m-technology. The 2014 adapted approaches for that year’s cohort of international students are discussed. The chapter concludes that the use of m-technology in the classroom can engage and motivate students. Although used by the researchers in supporting students to engage in developing their digital literacy skills, m-technology can be used in other contexts by business educators to support student learning. A summary of lessons learnt and practical guidelines for effective use of m-technology is provided.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Ali, R., & Katz, I. R. (2010) Information and communication technology literacy: What do businesses expect and what do business schools teach? Educational Testing Service. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Baron, P., & Corbin, L. (2012). Student engagement: Rhetoric and reality. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(6), 759–772.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bates, A. W., & Sangra, A. (2011). Managing technology in higher education: Strategies for transforming teaching and learning. San Francisco: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carni, R. M., Kuh, G. D., & Klein, S. P. (2006). Student engagement and student learning: Testing the linkages. Research in Higher Education, 47(1), 1–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cobb, S., Heaney, R., Corcoran, O., & Henderson-Begg, S. (2010). Using mobile phones to increase classroom interaction. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 19(2), 147–157.

    Google Scholar 

  • Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience. (2009). JISC report: Higher education in a Web2.0 world. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • CREDO. (2013). What students know about information literacy (Infographic). CREDO website. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Dyson, L. E., Litchfield, A., Lawrence, E., Raban, R., & Leijdekkers, P. (2009). Advancing the m-learning research agenda for active, experiential learning: Four case studies. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(2), 250–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Farkas, M. (2012). Click here to engage. American Libraries, 43(3/4), 27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2010). Preparing students for mastery of 21st century skills. In J. A. Bellanca & R. D. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn. Bloomington: Solution Tree.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gillispie, M. D. (2014). From Notepad to iPad: Using apps and web tools to engage a new generation of students. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gokhale, R., & Bhakare, S. (2011). New learning paradigms: The SMS way and student to student learning with m-technology. International Journal of Arts & Sciences, 4(8), 275–283.

    Google Scholar 

  • Head, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. B. (2009). What today’s college students say about conducting research in the Digital Age, University of Washington. Available via ERIC. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • HEFCE. (2010). Student perspectives on technology-demand, perceptions and training needs: Report to HEFCE by NUS. Available via HEFCE. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Hockly, N. (2011). The digital generation. English Language Teaching Journal, 65(3), 322–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Institute for the Future. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Available via University of Phoenix Research Institute. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Istance, D., & Kools, M. (2013). OECD work on technology and education: Innovative learning environments as an integrating framework. European Journal of Education, 48(1), 43–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2005). Current uses of wireless and mobile learning – Landscape study on the use of mobile and wireless technologies for teaching and learning in the Post-16 sector. JISC-funded project. Available via HEFCE. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Lindquist, D., Denning, T., Kelly, M., Malani, R., Griswold, W. G., & Simon, B. (2007, March 7–11). Exploring the potential of mobile phones for active learning in the classroom. In: Proceedings of SIGCSE ’07 conference proceedings, Covington.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lippincott, J. (2005). Net generation students and libraries. EDUCAUSE Review, March/April:56–61.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lohar, S. (2010, October 10). In higher education a focus on technology. NY Times, 10 October 2010. Available via NY Times. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • MacMillan, M., & MacKenzie, A. (2012). Strategies for integrating information literacy and academic literacy: Helping undergraduate students make the most of scholarly articles. Library Management, 33(8/9), 525–535.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mastery Connect. (2014). Socrative. Available via

  • McInnes Bowers, C. V., Chew, B., Bowers, M. R., Ford, C. E., Smith, C., & Herrington, C. (2009). Interdisciplinary synergy: A partnership between business and library faculty and its effects on students’ information literacy. Journal of Business and Finance Librarianship, 14(2), 110–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mostafa, J. (2005). Seeking better web searches. Scientific American, 292(2), 51–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NMC. (2014). Horizon report: 2014 higher education edition. Available via NMC. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (eds) (2005). Educating the net generation. Available via EDUCASE. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prensky, M. (2011). From digital natives to digital wisdom. Available via Mark Prensky. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Robb, M., & Shellenbarger, T. (2012). Using technology to promote mobile learning: Engaging students with cell phones in the classroom. Nurse Educator, 37(6), 258–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rushton, D., Middleton, A., & Malone, C. (2014). Digital posters: Talking cycles for academic literacy. In T. Lillis, K. Harrington, M. Lea, & S. Mitchell (Eds.), Working with academic literacies: Case studies towards transformative practice. Fort Collins: The WAC Clearinghouse and Parlor Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scornavacca, E., Huff, S., & Marshall, S. (2009). Mobile phones in the classroom: If you can’t beat them, join them. Communications of the ACM, 52(4), 142–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sethi, R. S. (2013). Role of technology in enhancing the quality of higher business management education – A description. International Journal of Management Excellence, 1(1), 13–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Traxler, J. (2013). Mobile learning: Shaping the frontiers of learning technologies in global context. In R. Huang, J. Kinshuk, & J. Spector (Eds.), Reshaping learning (pp. 237–251). Berlin: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Turnitin. (2012). The White Paper, the sources in student writing – Higher education: Sources of matched content and plagiarism in student writing. Available via TurnItIn Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • UCAS. (2013). Eight out of ten freshers have smart phones. Available via UCAS. Accessed 27 Apr 2015.

  • Woodcock, B., Middleton, A., & Nortcliffe, A. (2012). Considering the smartphone learner: An investigation into student interest in the use of personal technology to enhance their learning. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1(1), 1–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alison Lahlafi .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Lahlafi, A., Rushton, D. (2016). Mobile Phones: Not a Distraction in the Classroom But a Means of Engagement?. In: Daly, P., Reid, K., Buckley, P., Doyle, E. (eds) Innovative Business Education Design for 21st Century Learning. Advances in Business Education and Training. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-32620-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-32622-1

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics