Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cell Phones As Learning Tools (More NECC Day 1 sessions)

Liz Kolb's blog titled From Toy to Tool is an ongoing conversation about using cell phones as learning tools. I caught part of this conversation at my final Monday NECC session. You can find more information about this session from the Cell Phones in Learning wiki that Liz set up for this session. Liz opened with a video clip from NPR's segment Three Generations' View of Cell Phones. This reminds me of my own evolution regarding cell phones. I once had no concept why text messaging was so appealing to our teenagers. Now, I probably use the text feature more than the voice features.
Next came a mention of Wiffiti, which is a tool to have your text messages sent to public places. One way that Liz demonstrated Wiffiti was to pose a question to the class and have all participants text an answer to the screen. This would be useful for brainstorming tasks as everyone's responses would be seen simultaneously.
Liz outlined 4 reasons why we should use cell phones as learning tools.
1. The number of students who have cell phones. I believe over 60% of students 6-12 have their own cell phones. This number is dramatically higher among the 9-12 population. I talked to several teachers in low-income school districts who remarked that their students all had cell phones.
2. The students view of their cell phone. Just try taking away a teenager's cell phone. You will learn pretty quickly how much they value their cell phone.
3. The cell phone is an anytime, anyplace, any pace collaborative learning tool. This also happens to describe how students like to learn.
4. Preparation for 21st century skills. Only 23% of K-12 students believe they are being properly trained in schools for the 21st Century digital job force (from The Speak Up Reports and PEW).
Ok, now it's time to do the Cell Phone Cha Cha! Got a question that needs answered? Can't access the internet? Try the mobile phone Cha Cha service. You can either call 1-800 2 Cha Cha or text 242 242 and then ask any question. In a couple of minutes you will receive a text message response with the answer to your question. I just called Cha Cha for my daughter Zoe. She asked Cha Cha for Ashley Tisdale's phone number. In a few minutes we received her number via a text message. Zoe is very excited!! Give it a try now!
If any of you are familiar with's new iReport feature then you might see the power of mobile blogging. Mobile blogging is simply the ability to post text, audio, photos, and video to the an internet blog from a remote location instantanously using your cell phone as the primary tool. There are many tools that allow for this type of reporting...Jott and Gabcast being two of them. Jott allows you to call a number, speak, and have the voice to text translation to occur so the text can be sent to a variety of places that you select. I will be definetly using Jott to send a voice message to my Google Calendar.
Finally, Liz discussed Textmarks. Textmarks is a tool that will allow my students to sign up for text message alerts. I plan to have all my students subscribe to my alerts so I can send them reminders about projects, exams, news, changes in schedules, etc. You can see what this looks like at my classroom website.
Since I plan for all of my students to have blogs this year, I see mobile blogging having lots of potential in the area of psychology. Using remote videos, photographs, and voice to record human behavior can be a very powerful tool. I am excited to see where this can go. Other uses might include the creation of tutorials, brainstorming, and pre-writing exercises. If you have ideas, please comment here!


Liz Kolb said...

Thank you for the great review of my session and thanks for attending. Did the number to Ashley Tisdale work? If so, than ChaCha is really good...

Dave Waltman said...

The number to Ashley Tisdale did work! Well, it was actually a voice mail set up with a warning not to leave a phone number because the messages could be posted online. Then about 2 weeks later, I received a text message from Ashley Tisdale encouraging me to go online somewhere a vote for one of her songs. Me & Ash...we are tight, now.

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