With the rise of the smartphone, more and more adults and kids alike are becoming transfixed with their cellphones. Teenagers, especially, are tied to the hip with their smartphone and messaging apps, social media apps and games are the centre of their world.
You can then imagine what a disturbance smartphones can cause in a classroom…
However, schools in Seoul, South Korea, have decided to fight fire with fire – they have implemented a new app in schools which is solely aimed at reducing distractions within the classroom.
iSmartKeeper is a smartphone app with an accompanying desktop program that allows teachers to control which apps their students may use during class, all from the comfort of their desk.
It‘s premise is really simple, too. Students download the app onto their smartphone, while the teachers then use an accompanying desktop program.
The desktop program then gives the teacher the ability to remotely “˜control‘ the students‘ smartphone and app usage. Teachers can turn off specific apps during class or block messaging and social media apps (we‘re looking at you, WhatsApp and Facebook).
They can also lock all smartphones in the school or adjust the settings so only emergency calls are allowed or only phone calls and SMS.
What‘s super clever about the app, is that it uses location data to track the students movements. This enables the app to only work when the student is actually on school grounds.
iSmartKeeper is currently used in 11 schools in Seoul, with 600 other schools having shown interest in using the app. While it is still in it‘s “˜experimental‘ phase, co-creator and professor at the Gonju National University of Education, Haun Gyu-sang, has said that 30 000 students are already registered for the app.
Of course, before the app can be used, schools will first have to get approval from the students‘ parents. However, the app is just as appealing to parents as it is to the teachers; the app can also be used at home, with the parents implementing the same restrictions if they want.
The project is wholly endorsed by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, who plans to expand the project to more schools in the near future.
The idea to control the kids‘ app usage with another app is genius. In recent years, reports have been flooding educational journals and websites on the immense effect (distracction) that smartphones and apps have on kids, teenagers specifically.
We understand that kids want to be connected at all times, especially in this digital age they‘re growing up in. However, eduction comes first and the iSmartKeeper could possibly make a big impact on education.
What are your thoughts on this system? Do you think it could work in South African schools?