We live in a world that is increasingly mobile. In order for adults to connect with our kids and students, we need to mobilize. Kids love their phones, they are highly motivated to use them (constantly), and they always have them right there with them (if they’re allowed). What a strong basis for an educational tool: empower students to use tools they already own as a means for better education!
The Disney Mobile Cell and Tell survey of more than 1,500 10-17 year-old cell phone users found that teens and tweens like their cell phones perhaps more than other luxuries in their lives.
“If they had to choose between their phone or something else:
● One-third would give up listening to the radio, playing video games or going to the mall.
● Nearly one-fourth would give up their MP3 players.
● One in five would give up TV” (2007)
As a parent, imagine having the opportunity to help your child with their homework by encouraging them to text for help while waiting at the dentist office or on the way to dance class. As a teacher, imagine having a student respond quickly to a reflection-type question from the day’s lecture while checking their texts during a water break at basketball practice. For both, imagine having a mother learning through a text about the vocabulary test in her son’s biology class tomorrow so she can review with him as they drive to karate lessons.
Today’s phones can alert students to study, serve as a smart vehicle to take notes, provide instant, on-demand answers and research, and even provide a great way to record and capture student oral reports or responses to polls and quizzes. The family dinner table is fading, the homework hour is constantly challenged, and we are out and about (with our phones) more than ever.
Parents may need to take the lead in allowing their children to use their phones for learning and in educating their teachers and administrators of the value in working toward acceptable use policies. There are numerous ways educators and parents can empower students with the freedom to learn with a device they love using.
We want to share the ways you can start using cell phones to enhance learning. To follow are 12 of the most useful ways to support learning as adapted from the newly released book on the topic Teaching Generation Text (www.TeachingGenerationText.com). These ideas will help adults discover how to engage youth with fun, free, safe, and easy methods using nothing more than a basic, text-enabled cell phone.
1. Pictures make it real with Flickr
When cell phones have cameras, a new world is opened. Your kids can take pictures of homework projects, research material, field work, activities, etc. for their own use or to share with others. Encouraging students to take pictures of discussion material shared on the board, on handouts if they are going to be doing homework in route, or just to make sure the material does not get lost and stays handy is a great use of the cell phone camera. Flickr provides a free, easy and efficient way to share pictures taken on your cell phone and group them into slideshows based on topic. www.flickr.com/
2. Use an online cell phone notebook with WeTxt
Most cell phones have a notepad tool themselves, but when you want to be able to print notes, organize notes, and keep a running record on your computer, a service like WeTxt offers a free way to add your online notebook and notebook sections to your contacts and you and your kids can text in notes anywhere, anyplace, anytime.www.wetxt.com
3. Capture oral assignments and thoughts with Google Voice
Google voice enables educators to capture voice messages from students without providing them with their direct phone number. The power of this kicks in when you realize that what Google Voice does is actually become a repository for oral reports, assignments, or sound bites. Not only is it a repository, but parents and teachers can write notes on each clip, share, and post them. This is obviously an effective tool for auditory learners. www.google/voice.com
4. Have an expert in your pocket with ChaCha
Imagine having an expert to turn to at any time for information, advice, guidance…for free! That’s ChaCha, an amazing service that will become invaluable to students and parents alike, works on any cell phone with every provider and enables students to ask any question and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes.
You may want to caution students/parents that there may be advertising as part of the ChaCha message and teach them to be aware users by disregarding unnecessary inclusions. www.chacha.com or text 242242