Monday, March 2, 2009

Using Google as an Educational Tool Right From Your Phone!

Your students don't need to have a laptop to access the vast amounts of knowledge formerly available to only those with the internet. Educators can put an endless amount of information at their student's finger tips by asking them to take out their cell phone and text "G-O-O-G-L-E" (466453) - FREE to those with unlimited texting plans.

Here's what you can access with just using GOOGLE text messaging listed by "Search Feature" and "Sample Query" below.

Search Feature - Sample Query 

Weather - weather boston
Glossary - define zenith
Sports - score red sox
Movies - movies 94110
Zip Codes - zip code 72202
Directions - directions pasadena ca to 94043
Maps - map 5th avenue new york
Flights - flight aa 2111
Area Codes - area code 650
Products - price ipod player 40gb
Q&A - abraham lincoln birthday
Airlines - united airlines
Translation - translate hello in french
Web Snippets - web hubble telescope
Calculator - 1 us pint in liters
Currency Conversion - 8 usd in yen
Stocks - stock tgt

Airports - sfo airport
METAR - metar khio
Help - help local

You can see a demonstration of how this functions at and you can watch the below video. I would recommend showing this to your students in class before sending them off to use this tool.

As Marc Prensky explains in his piece What Can You Learn from A Cell Phone? – Almost Anything, and as I shared in my post Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning research shows that phones and texting are valuable educational tools. I've thought of a few ideas for using this resource as an educational tool with your students. Of course, once you discuss this with your students, I'm sure they'll be able to come up with even better ideas.

Five ideas for using Google SMS to enhance learning.
  1. Have students compare their neighborhood with one they’re learning about in social studies or in a book they’re reading.
    Possible tools: “Currency,” “Local,” “Weather”
  2. Have students create a city guide. I’d recommend first modeling this by creating a guide to the school neighborhood, then let students use this model to create a guide to another neighborhood such as creating a guide to the neighborhood of a great grandparent.
    Possible tools: “Web Snippets,” “Currency,” “Local,” “Translation,” “Weather”
  3. Recommend that ELL and foreign language students use the translate tool when they come upon a word they don’t know.
    Possible tool: “Translate"
  4. Recommend students use the define tool to look up a word or concept they don't know when reading.
    Possible tools: "Define," "Web Snippets"
  5. Incorporate the tools into a math lesson.
    Possible tools: “Calculator,” “Currency Conversion,” “Stocks”
For educators working in school districts that have banned these powerful tools, not to worry. Even though students are banned from using cells as educational tools during the school day, students are free to engage in 21st Century learning outside of school. I encourage innovative educators to "Think Outside the Ban!" and assign your students homework that allows them to use these cells outside of school. Your students will thank you for allowing them to learn in an environment in which they thrive.


  1. Anybody interested in the use of cell phones in education should take a look at Liz Kolbs' blog "From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning" at

    Liz has done a huge amount of work in that area, including publishing a book entitled "Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education" (published by the ISTE; see

  2. Thanks Jeff for recommending my book. I would like to add another option for Google in Education from your phone. How about using the product code to compare products in an Economics or Business class?

    There are numerous possibilities with simple SMS texting and education. Thanks Lisa for posting these great ideas!

  3. I began questioning how using this sms program would differ from using a computer. But, then it occurred to me: even non-smart phones have text messaging features.