Exploring Cellphones as Learning Tools

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:05 am

I had the great privilege of being invited to spend some time in a learning experiment in one of the local schools that I work with. The principal, let’s call him Gord (that’s actually his real name) emailed me about some interesting idea he and his grade 8/9 teacher had.  The class was studying the novel The Wave. The book is about an experiment itself so it seemed perfect to their teacher, Carla to try out an experiment of their own.

So I popped in for a visit and here’s what I found:

  • Engagement. As Carla and Gord pointed out, the cellphone novelty will soon pass, the engagement was with the ideas and sharing. Students were not really dazzled by their phones, they simply used them to share ideas, pictures, sounds and videos. The real engagement was with each other and the story. The cellphones were almost seamless.
  • Responsibility.  Clearly posted on the wall were a set of guidelines developed by the students and their teacher on how to use this tool wisely. Discussions of etiquette, manners, privacy and safety led them to their common understandings.
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Scoble and Soloway

Not sure if the prompting of Christian Long (sorry I can’t find the exact link) precipated this interview but regardless, it’s great to see a non-educator like Robert Scoble get close and personal with a personality like Eliot Soloway. The two sit down and talk about the future of education, the power of mobile computer, women in technology and access. Soloway does a nice job of expressing in a very positive way why things are changing and his vision for schools in the next five years. He’s a realist and provides some nice insights.

[tags]robertscoble,eliotsoloway,cellphones,christianlong[/tags]… Read the rest

This is what we are dealing with

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:17 pm

Last week, the CBC asked for viewer feedback on the recent ban of Toronto school boards on cellphones. I weighed with this comment:

I’m not surprised by these comments. Most parents and educators are stuck in an old model of education where the teacher is in full control of the learning and disruption is a bad thing.

Cellphones have the potential of computers. Good and bad. Good teachers understand how to use technology for learning. The cellphone is already being used in powerful learning ways. I understand most readers think of them as disruptive and in no way educational. A desktop computer is no different.

In addition to the potential for learning, the recent events in Virginia will likely prompt increased use.

To those that talk about potential of cheating….I would hope that good teachers are not spending most of their time having kids answer questions that require rote answers. Learning needs to go deeper than that.

Why are we asking kids to learn the provincial capitals when Google gives you that answer in less than 1 second? I’m not saying knowledge isn’t important but the emphasis

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