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. All you’ve got to do is check out the camera specs for the upcoming iPhone 7 to see where things are heading. You can look forward to getting features including 12 megapixels, image stabilization, and improved low-light photo capability. Videos will also be better than they’ve ever been. The Galaxy 7 from Samsung is just as impressive.

It’s a growing trend, and one we can make good use of in education.

The following chart is from the article Are Smartphones Killing Digital Cameras? by Felix Richter for Statista. It details the rise of smartphone cameras as a clear contender in the digital photography arena:

“When the first touchscreen smartphones made waves in 2007 and 2008, the camera industry was doing very well … less than 10 years later, the situation of the camera industry looks very different. At the same time as smartphones became more and more ubiquitous, the lenses and sensors built into them became ever more powerful.”



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. These solutions can be enhanced by the mobile tech students have right in their hands.

Classroom Ideas for Smartphone Cameras

Below are some useful ways to apply smartphone cameras to learning in class.

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).

Resources for Smartphone Cameras


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