Sunday, August 16, 2009

Turn Off That Phone! Or, there's an app for that!

I have seen teenagers texting with the phone under the table. Their thumbs are flying, their faces show the multitasking involved in trying to look like they are listening (the "I am looking like I am listening" look is the dead give away), and send their text simultaneously. What powers of concentration!

Phones are powerful mini-computers that can be used for much more than chat and texting. We sure spend a lot on new technologies for the classroom. Are we ignoring one of the most important assets already riding around in the backpacks and pockets of our students?

PollDaddy is just one of the many free online polling services that, in some schools, are being used for student surveys, and even fun quiz alternatives. I heard a presentation from a teacher who had students text their short writing exercises to her, had a higher percentage of timely submissions, and the writing was better than in previous assignments. Her students loved writing on their phones, felt more attached to their writing, and indicated they felt the assignment was "valuable" to them. When it was time to edit, they were much more enthusiastic.

In Africa cell phones are used extensively in what we might consider non-traditional ways. Much of the continent is still waiting for the cabling infrastructure to support widespread Internet access, but this hasn't held them back. In Kenya, they are using cell phones in education for assignments, attendance reporting, administrative functions, and many, many other ways. Cell phones have opened up banking functions for people who live far from commercial centers, allowing them to participate more fully in economic activity. Cell phone minutes are bought and sold as an alternate currency in many areas.

I was walking around on the third floor of the CCHS Library Learning Commons the other day, wondering where to place a computer for catalog access. Then it dawned on me. Tons of kids have phones with Internet connectivity. They have access to the catalog already. They have access to the world.

Social media has already gone mobile. By utilizing the power of the cell phone in education, we can also empower kids to recognize the possibilities to do more than text their friends and check their Facebook page.

Blog source:
10 Ideas for Engaging Learners with Cell Phones Even in Districts that Ban Them by Lisa Nielsen

Photo credit:
Flickr Creative Commons

todos showing my apps

Uploaded on July 16, 2007
by Stryler

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