Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cell phones in the classrooms

Cell phones in classrooms - A subject debated while the rest of the world continues to use the technology.

RCBoEd approved a policy to allow a pilot program to allow students to have cell phones on campus for 4 (out of 10) high schools. It is a subject that demonstrates the digital divide in Augusta, GA. A sales tax oversight committee recommended this week to spend $813,174 to purchase 866 computers. The purchase would ensure every teacher has a dedicated computer, which can be used for grades, test scores and communicating with parents through iParent. (Computers urged for teachers, Augusta Chronicle link

For those who have used cell phones to learn something new, how have you incorporated your minicomputer into learning something new? You had to learn about a cell phone since no one taught you in school. Delve a little deeper into the tools available with your smartphone.

Depending on your cell phone plan, everyone has the capability to learn something new through their cell phone.

Google has a section under for downloading apps to a variety of phones
(, so we will see students who never own laptop or desktop computer because they do everything on a smart phone. For those smart phone users who want to find out which Google applications are available on your phone, visit from your phone browser.

Another teachable moment: Cell phone plans. Parents did not grow up with them and can be sent into phone bill shock if they are not aware of the plans and features. Most text and talk plans allow for unlimited text which makes texting more affordable talking. Involve the students, teach them how to determine the best plans for their budgets. Eventually they do grow up and become adults and will have to purchase their own plans.

1. Today’s cell phones have world clocks, voice recorders, calculators, GPS, calendars, and media capabilities.

2. Word of the day –
SPARK notes SAT word of the day
Merriam Webster word of the day or Word Smart word of the day

3. For cell phones with data plans, Internet connections allow teachers and students (and parents) to: Google a topic, check the spelling or definition of a word, use a multitude of Google products, look up reference images, pull up maps (road maps, pictures, and satellite imagery), document an event like a field trip or lab with built in digital camera or video, check facts check on the fly, email questions to the teacher that students might be embarrassed to ask, school emergency response systems, take quizzes, record and/or listen to podcasts, join a MoSoSo such as !Cellphedia - a Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) that promotes the sharing of knowledge. It allows users to send and receive encyclopedia-type inquiries between specific, pre-defined groups of users, through Text messaging.

4. For those students and teachers interested in the technology aspect of how cell phones work. Differences between network types, designs used by cell phones, differences between web design/programming for mobile networks vs traditional and more acronyms like PCS, GSM, CDMA and TDMA. Check out How Stuff Works - Cell phones

5. When all else fails…ask the millions of cell phone users what they have learned since they became cell phone users.

Articles, websites, and books which demonstrate the use of cell phones in the classroom:

Teach Digital: Cell phones in the Classroom Curriculum by Wes Fryer
Wes Fryer's Blog – Moving at the Speed of Creativity Opening Minds about cell phones for learning

Ideas and Thoughts by Dean Shareski - Principals Trying out cell phones posted January 21, 2008

The Clever Sheep blog by Rodd Lucier. How is your school leveraging cell phone technology for student learning? Posted April 27, 2008

Stop Banning, Start Embracing Discover how cell phones can be used as learning tools. Liz Kolb. From Ed Tech Magazine

Cell phones welcome in some classrooms Devices used to check schedules, take quizzes at various college campuses By Olga Kharif, Fri., Sept. 5, 2008

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis. Vicki posts turns her phone calls in to podcasts using Gcast.

Liz Kolb’s blog: From Toy to Tool Cell Phones in Learning

Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education by Liz Kolb
240 pages ISTE, 2008, ISBN 978-1-56484-247-3, Available for preorder. Due out in Nov 2008.
About the book:
Many, if not most, educators view cell phones as the enemy. Author Liz Kolb sees them as powerful technology in the hands of students. Acknowledging the current reality—that many schools ban student cell phone use in the classroom—Kolb discusses a host of innovative and highly interesting uses for the technology that do not require using the phones in the classroom. She also addresses the issues that have caused the bans and provides guidelines for overcoming the problems.

Ignoring, or worse, demonizing a technology that students willingly and actively use in every other aspect of their lives is not a winning educational strategy. Tapping into the ubiquitous power of modern communications technology and merging it with the flexibility and excitement of the Interactive Web (Web 2.0), Kolb provides a vision in which engaged students use the tools of their choice to enhance learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Mini lessons and powerful resources throughout the book are easily adaptable and appropriate for almost any grade level.

Anyone can Google search terms such as,“Cell phones in the classroom, learning with cell phones, or mobile teaching with cell phones.

So enjoy and have fun while you are learning with a tool you always referred to as “just a cell phone”.
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