Smart phones now have hundreds of applications meant to educate kids, from graphic calculators to animation programs that teach spelling and phonics. And while most public schools don’t allow the devices because they’re considered distractions (and sometimes portable cheating tools), some school districts have started to put the technology to use, reports the Associated Press. The key, educators say, is controlling the environment in which they are used. In St. Mary’s, Ohio, a school district of 2,300 students is continuing a pilot program where third, fourth, and fifth graders are assigned smart phones for use as a learning tool in the classroom and at home. They use applications created by a company called Go Know! to draw pictures and create sketches, as well as journal and write essays, said Kyle Menchhofer, the district’s technology coordinator. Other applications create flash cards for spelling and math. Students recently took the phones on a museum field trip where they took photos, uploaded them to a server where the teacher could view the assignment, and wrote blurbs about what they saw. "Cell phones aren’t going away. Mobile technology isn’t going away," Menchhofer said. "Right now, what we’re telling kids is, ‘You go home and use whatever technology you want, but when you get to school, we’re going to ask you to step back in time.’ It doesn’t make any sense."

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