what are some good ways to have them use their phones?
Other than simply looking something up, are there ways I can have students use their devices to enhance a group learning experience?
We use http://kahoot.it a lot. The students love it because they compete against each other as they answer questions. You create a quiz (or use a public quiz) and log onto the website during class. Put it up on the projector. The students individually log in to your quiz on their phones- they even make up nicknames for themselves. They'll see your questions and they have to answer on their phones. As the quiz proceeds, it will list the top students and it will also tell you the percentages for each answer selected, so you'll know which areas need further clarification. It's great as a review for a midterm or final.
I have them download an app called Socrative. I build practice quizzes made from key terms which they will see on a test. It lets me see how well each student is doing on the questions all at the same time. I can use it to assess how many students missed the same question and go back and review that information with the class as a whole before they take their exam. I can also put them on auto assigned teams and that allows them to collaborate in class with someone they might not normally work with. They really like it. Kahoot is another really great wedbsite that let's you build review questions and is a fun game environment that times them as they play. It takes barely any time at all to set up.
I am an instructor of cooking and we use the phones in class to look up why things might fail or the science of the cooking. They seem to have a little fun and they remember it a little better also.