Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cell Phones In Education

Recently I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the use of cell phones in education. The presentation covered many tools that are available to those of us that own a cell phone, as well as, practical ways in which they can be applied to education. I am sure there are many naysayers and there is much opposition to cell phones being used in schools, but I am of the perspective that if you teach appropriate use you stand a greater chance of diminishing inappropriate use. In fact I find it quite comical and offensive that so many decision makers ban the use of things like phones or ___(insert your favorite Web 2.0 site here) without any justifiable reason. In addition, by doing this without any real reason it is a slap in the face of educators. The message being sent is, "we do not think you are capable of managing your class, even though you have the training and schooling, so we will do it for you. But, you better get those test scores up and we will only provide you with the minimal support needed." This attitude reminds me of a quote from Bill Parcells former NFL head coach and Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins, "if you want me to cook the dinner the least you could do is let me shop for the groceries."

But, the beauty of having a wonderful Personal Learning Network "PLN" is that there are many educators who share my vision and my desire for education to take drastic leaps to the present and future. In fact, my PLN is one of my most valuable sources of information and learning. During the presentation several educators whom I highly respect and value were able to provide backchannel chat support and provide valuable contributions during the live broadcast of this presentation. It is important that I thank all of them: Dennis Grice, Alice Mercer, Aaron Smith, Andy Losik, Adina Sullivan, and Dr. Lisa Rodriguez. I have posted the presentation with a new application called sliderocket. Hopefully, it will run smoothly with the audio and the flash videos will play. Feel free to provide comments and contribute to either or both of the polleverywhere polls I have open.

Presentation Description

This presentation will cover all the latest research on cell phone usage and capabilities. We will take a look at the many tools that are available on our phones as well as how those tools can be used to produce educationally appropriate content. We will also look at a plethora of applications available online that enhances the capabilities of your phone. If you have a phone this is not a session you want to miss.

Presentation Abstract

A recurring theme I tend to hear is that cell phones do not belong in schools. Yet the latest research does not support such a drastic and unreasonable stance. Cell phones are an intricate and important part of the lives of everybody, including our students. Students nowadays are adept at many things associated with cell phones: SMS text messaging, capturing video, creating original audio content, taking photographs, surfing the internet, and in many cases conducting research.
During the course of this presentation we will examine some of the latest research on cell phone usage, global penetration, domestic penetration, as well as many other pertinent statistics. We will look at ways cell phones have transformed the lives of many including in third world countries.
The presentation will continue with an overview of the applications available on the Internet that enhance the capabilities of a cell phone. Among the features of these applications include, voice to text, how to send emails or SMS messages with your voice, recording to do lists, creating and publishing podcasts, micro-blogging, posting photos directly to an online photo album, streaming video from your phone, conducting polls, interfacing with google apps. and much more.
Concluding the presentation will be brief discussion of questions and comments posted in the backchannel chat. We will explore ways in which we can incorporate the use of cell phones within our curriculum, while remaining compliant with school/district rules. Presenter will also share actual instances in which his students have made use of some of the tools discussed and how the use of cell phones guaranteed access to the curriculum for all his students.


Sharon Elin said...

An eye-opening post with so much information that I'll be dabbling with new apps and ideas for weeks! Thanks so much for your collection of ways to use cell phones in education and personal organization. This arms me with solid information to share with administrators, who might have heard the buzz about using mobile phone technology in education, but who don't understand how this could be done.

I believe that we should treat students with mobile phones the same way we treat adults: Simply make an announcement at the beginning of class to request that all cellphones be silenced, and - since students will sometimes be sneaky - require that they have their phones on their desks in plain view of the teacher to avoid surreptitious use of them. Maybe I'm idealistic, but I believe students deserve more trust than we've been showing them.

Kobus van Wyk said...

Cellphones are untapped resources in the classroom. Your posting is very relevant and needs to be taken seriously by the teaching fraternity.

Leroy's Mom said...

The presentation was really great to be in. I loved being part of it.

Just a request, can you set your blog comments so that it will let folks put their name and blog? I use edublogs, but it's forcing me to id with a defunct blogger account.

Curtis Webster said...

Couple of points here. First, I think that there are many good reasons that technology limitations have been inserted into the classroom. Beyond student behavior, we also have an obligation to protect our students while they are in our care. It doesn't make since to lock the doors to prevent trespassers and then throw open wide the virtual doors without regard to the safety of our students.

Sadly, it again boils down to money. In order to implement these technologies into education we must do so with some measure of control. Many Web 2.0 resources are designed for free access for everyone. There's no way to protect student identities, or filter out pornographic solicitations using these resources. Some of these resources can be made secure, but then the services are no longer free.

It's important that we continue finding ways to safely incorporate these resources into our classrooms. Last year, I gave up on creating a wiki for my classes because the students were required to have e-mail addresses in order to log in. I didn't (and still don't) feel comfortable requiring students to sign up for a free e-mail service (e.g. gmail, yahoo mail, hotmail, ...) in order to get access to the wiki. Someone in a PBWiki workshop recommended that I create phantom accounts and get the student accounts created in the wiki. I would have an e-mail address that never gets used and the student would have access to the wiki, but not to the e-mail account. This is an example of how teachers can help one another implement technology into their lessons without compromising the safety of our students. (P.S. It also demonstrates the value of professional learning networks.)

Kathy McCabe said...

I really enjoyed watching your presentation. I hope to be using some of these applications at a school in Cape Town, South Africa. Although in a poor area, we estimate that around 70% of the kids have access to cell phones. Thanks for all your ideas!