Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cell Phones as Learning Tools

I took quite a while to listen to the K12 Online presentation Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools. I wasn't going to listen to it initially. At our school, cell phones are supposed to stay in backpacks and are to be turned off. Boy, am I glad I listened.

A lot of what was presented will work for me personally. I really did not think much about using a phone outside of what I saw in the Pay Attention video by Darren Draper. The video suggests challenging students to find data to several questions via the cell phone. By the way, I only realized recently that he created that presentation through a Twitter that he posted.

I have had my math and computer students record songs and public service announcements on various topics. It is hard to get a good recording with the sounds of the classroom in the background. One of her ideas was to use the cell phone as a recording tool. The links to the tools are on her wiki. It doesn't even have to be a cell phone, it can be a land line. I may use this in the future.

Another idea that intrigues me is to record ring tones for a cell phone. The ring tone can be a song a student creates. This would tie in nicely to the metric songs my math students create. Liz also has an idea for creating wall paper for the cell phone. This would be a neat tie in to learning to create images using The Gimp.

Finally, more as a tool to create content for parents and students are two last ideas. The first is the idea of using a website that allow a person to create a mobile phone viewable site. Imagine how neat it would be to have a little site for downloading those wall papers and ring tones. The second is the ability to post homework and assignment alerts. I already use Schoolnotes to post homework. It would be neat to have parents to sign up for alerts.

There were some pointed comments on the K12 Online about the cost of using the Internet with cell phones. I agree with this. I had my links to the Internet cut off on my phone because I don't want to pay the extra money and I was tired of clicking into the option by mistake. I also agree that students often use texting and Internet connections without regard to what it costs their parents. Tied into a math lesson, it would make a powerful real life connection to their lessons.

Great job on the presentation and I am glad that K12 Online makes it easy to go back to again and again. I had it on my iPod and it was great "pick up" listening while waiting at the tire repair shop and waiting to pick up the kids from after school activities. I plan on eventually posting my results of each tool as I try it. I highly recommend the presentation.

Image Citation:
"Cell Phone vs. Cell Phone.” Yankee in Texas' Photostream. 22 Sep 2007. 3 Nov 2007.


  1. Thx

    I'm glad that you have seen the value of mobile phones for students. I am yet to convine colleague at my school.

    I am compiling a wiki as part of my attempts to convince them. i have added your post to the list

  2. Hi there,

    Fellow NJ teacher here - we must have been drinking the same Kool Aid this weekend, because I put up a related blog post on this topic here. Would love to get your input if you have a chance.

    W/R/T classroom applications, my 10th graders have been developing podcasts (old-timey radio show versions of The Crucible). Although Audacity has fantastic mixing and production capabilities, I don't know much about that, and didn't have time to learn before we had to start recording. Enter cell phones!

    Kids were able to create ambient soundtrack music for their dramatic readings simply by holding their phones near the mic. They played decent quality mp3s from their phones straight into the external mic, and it sounded great (well, close enough for rock n' roll, as they say).

    We have the same "shut off and shut away" policy at our school, but their phones came in very handy last Friday, and I think they got a cheap thrill out teacher-sanctioned use of cell phones. Admin was none the wiser, and nobody got written up. I won't tell if you won't!