Thursday, January 29, 2015

#Throwback Thursday - The Value of Using Cell Phones to Enhance Education + Some Concrete Ways to Do So

Today's #ThrowbackThursday brings us to a post I wrote in 2008 about using cell phones for learning even if they are banned where you work. Little did I know back then, that this post would receive more than 20,000 views and also be the basis for my book, "Teaching Generation Text." At the time, it was considered rather scandalous (see this coverage in the local paper) that I was teaching teachers how to harness their cell phones for learning when schools across the city in which these teachers work banned the devices. 

Since then, things have changed. Most of those cool texting services I wrote about in this post any others such as Google SMS, Wiffiti, ChaCha and more, no longer provide such services in an age where most phones are smart. Also, more and more districts are lifting the ban and embracing the power of student devices for learning. 

Written: May 12, 2008

Topic: Using cell phones for learning

Who might be interested: Anyone teaching in an environment that doesn't ban cell phones.

Favorite excerpt / Reader Questions:
  • Should we teach educators and students ways to unleash the educational value of technologies even if they may not be accessible in schools?
  • How will schools be impacted that are a part of Bloomberg’s pilot program that provides every student at certain schools with cell phones in an effort to increase student achievement? Should those phones just be seen as a reward and a tool to use after school or should those teachers and students have an opportunity to learn about, model, and implement ways to use these devices as powerful learning tools?
  • Should the decision of use of cell phones and other technologies be at the discretion of the mayor or should informed educators and building leaders be empowered to determine if they want to employ such a policy?
  • Should educators and students be encouraged to make an educational case for allowing various technologies to be used acceptably, appropriately, and educationally in schools?


The Value of Using Cell Phones to Enhance Education and Some Concrete Ways to Do So

I am offering a class through the Office of Instructional Technology this Friday that among other things shows educators how to use Google SMS to enhance teaching and learning. When participants ask questions and colleagues (in this case the class facilitators) send emails like this one or this one that inquire why I offer a class informing educators how to use sms texting as an educational tool even though cell phones are banned in NYC schools, my answer is easy. I am fortunate to work in an office that believes in being leaders rather than followers in providing innovative support to educators. With technology changing at lightening speed, many of our educators don't yet know what it is they need to know in this vast and ever-changing 21st Century landscape and it is the responsibility of our office to help inform the educational community. 

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