Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cell Phones in School

When I hear about cell phones in school I mostly hear how they are a distraction, they can be used to cheat, or how they should not be banned because they might be needed in a life threatening situation like a school hostage situation. In the last 24 hours the tune has been a different from the folks I follow on Twitter. I heard that Darren Draper was going to respond to an effort to ban cell phones in Utah. Darren wrote a blog post that is compelling and instructive about the educational opportunities that cell phones offer. The post points out that banning learning devices because most teachers have not harnessed their power is short-sighted. In conclusion Draper implores the policy makers to leave the decision about use of cell phones up to the teacher.

Photo credit

Also from Twitter I was pointed to this story of a young woman in Japan who wrote a novel in installments on her cell phone. The novel was available in installments through an online site for download to cell phone. More recently the 142 page book was published and has sold 420,000 copies.

How do you think states and schools should deal with cell phones? What do you believe the opportunities are for students with cell phones in the classroom? Do your students use cell phones to access information or only to communicate?

Below are some link suggested by Darren Draper for more information on how to use the cell phone in your classroom.

Pay Attention

Liz Kolb's Cell Phones As Learning Tools

Tony Vincent's Mobile Web on learninginhand

Marc Prensky's
What Can You Learn From A Cell Phone? - Almost Anything!
Jeff VanDrimmelen's 8 Ways to use Camera Phones in Education
Ellen D. Wagner's Enabling Mobile Learning


Ms. Johnson said...

They are definitely communicating with them more than anything...but is that bad. I mean they are reading and making meaning....in a way

I've tried (secretly) to use cell phones with the website gabcast...It was great....but noise level in the classroom made this hard as did that fact that it did not publish to our blog they way that they are supposed to...I may need to take more time to check this out.

This is a non-intrusive way to get ESL students to speak and explain what they know...

I like this idea and would like to investigate it with my students further, I'm tired of cofiscating cell phones because of district policy...the power struggle that ensues and the uncomfortable atmosphere it creates is far worse that students "communicating" with other students...

Carolyn Foote said...

Our school has a pretty "liberal" cell phone policy. Classrooms are "no cell phone " zones for some teachers, but they just ask students to put them away.

Students can use the phones elsewhere in the school(as can teachers) and it's not a big problem.

We recently shared Darren Draper's video at a workshop, and one of our math teachers came up with an excellent assignment for his students using the cell phone.

I wrote more about it here, and included an email he shared that details what the project was.

He found it very motivating to his students.


I think the foolhardy part of banning "cell phones" is that we are on the brink of devices like the iPhone entering schools as a hand-held classroom device. What will states do then once a law like this is passed?

And why is this something that needs to be legislated in the first place? That seems archaic at best.

In Japan, cell phones and mobile technologies are ubiquitious. I wonder how they handle it in their schools--and yet we are trying to compete with them in the workplace, by blocking students from using them at school. Highly ironic.

Joseph Miller said...


Thanks for the wonderful comment and the link to the great resource. I was really blown anyway by the assignment your colleague, Bob, gave in his class. What was exciting was how simple and engaging the assignment was. Thanks!

Liz Kolb said...

Thanks for referencing my K-12 presentation. I think there are endless possibilities with cell phones in learning. The post from Carolyn is a great idea for math or really any secondary subject.

I am putting the finishes touches on a book on this topic with ISTE called Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning. It should be out early 2008. The goal is to give lots of ideas and ways cell phones can become learning tools. Joe Wood just did a really interesting brainstorming activity with his students and cell phones with Wiffiti:
Joe Wood's Blog

Anonymous said...

You guys clearly have the privilege of teaching in a respectable school. I can assure you that if you taught where I do you would wish cell phones were banned. We have now ordered a detection system from a company phonebuster in response to a incident that occured last month where a gang fight took place outside the school gates. This was all organised and incited by the kids using their phones. Why thehell do they need there phones at school? This whole mobile learning is complete nonsense