On Saturday, I attended an on-line information seminar on how to harness the power of cell phones in education.
When I first heard that this was going to be the topic, I was immediately intrigued. I mean, isn’t this one of the hottest topics in education? I am just completing my first teaching block as a student teacher, and I noticed that cell phones in the classroom are an epidemic! Not just that, but I see it as an addiction more powerful than anything I have seen before! Heck, while I was being evaluated, my advisor saw a student on their cell phone seven times in ten minutes!!!
I will not go into the entire seminar, but I will point out some key points of information for some potential uses of cell phones in education. You can view the entire recording of the session at http://live.classroom20.com/archive-and-resources.html
Step One … get an unlimited texting plan 🙂 These do not normally cost too much, and if you do not know which plan to buy … ask your students. With students averaging 3,300 texts per month, I am sure they have great texting plans.
Just like blogging, and social network sites, students need to learn proper etiquette for using their cell phones, and who better to teach them how to use them than teachers. Students can learn how cell phones can help them in their daily lives by teaching them the “unpopular” features, such as alarm clocks, calendars, calculator, and even how to use their camera to take pictures of their assignments so they have a copy on their phone. In terms of some resources for using cell phones with your class and collegues, I will outline a few ideas presented to us below.
The first resource is We Text … an on-line service that allows you to send and receive group texts. This is great to use to communicate with collegues or even your class. You could set up your class as a group, and text homework reminders, or even send them a poll question they need to answer on Poll Everywhere (I will talk about that in a few seconds). In order to sign up for We text, go to http://www.wetxt.com/ and sign up.
The second resource is Poll Everywhere. You can set up poll questions using Poll Everywhere (www.polleverywhere.com) and have your class respond via their cell phones annonymously. Students can use their cell phones to answer polls even when they are not in class. This can be used either in the classroom or for homework. It is simple, easy to use, and you definately will not need to train your students on how to send a text message!
A final resource I found useful (outside of chacha, which is not available in Canada) is Voki. Picture your students using their cell phones to tell a story, or to give their feedback on a presentation. With Voki, you can create an avatar, punch in a cell number, and Voki will call that number and allow a student to record the answer to your question on the phone. This is then posted under my Voki at www.voki.com for you to listen to, and post to your classroom’s Wiki page. This really helps with Differentiated Instruction and Blended Learning. The students’ get to use the technology they love (cell phones), and do not need to write out the answers (great for ELL students)! This also allows you, the teacher, to evaluate the answers at your leisure, because you have it recorded.
These are only some of the great uses of cell phones in the classroom. The key is to harness the technology that students’ love, and use that to improve the environment for learning in the classroom. Cell phones are not going away … don’t you think it is time we as teachers embraced this technology, and use it to our advantage?
I certainly do.