This week I want to point you to a video (or actually, a part of a video) that shows the power of technology integration. Head over to the Apple Site and see the "3.0 iPhone SDK" preview (opens in new tab) (you should do it soon as I'm not sure how long Apple will keep it there or... watch the edited clip from YouTube that I'll embed below in this post). By all means, watch the whole presentation, but I'm pointing you to the part that starts around 43 minutes into the film. You'll see an incredible vision of the very near future presented by Anita Mathew of Lifescan (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). I don't want to give it all away, but I will tell you that she shows how Lifescan will further its goal of (in the words of Mathew) creating "a world without limits for people with diabetes" with the aid of the iPhone. The new tools iPhone will be bringing soon will help Lifescan in creating a program that will assist people in the management and decision making of their treatments based on data collected.
I've watched this video about eight times already and I get goosebumps each time. I can't wait for this to happen. There are students in my own school that can benefit directly from this technology. The idea that a phone can help provide increased freedom for them (and their parents) is awe inspiring.
But here's the thing: I think every student will benefit from this. This wonderful example of the power of the cell phone begs the larger question of: "What else can our phones do for us?"
I've talked about this before, and again, I direct you to the great work that Liz Kolb has done with promoting cell phones in education. I also direct you to the "2009 Horizon Report", and especially point a spotlight on the recently released "2009 Horizon Report K-12 Edition". The Horizon Report has shown evidence for years that cell phones will (and must) be essential tools in schools.
Yet, there are many who still identify cell phones as a distraction rather than a computer. It's a debate that's been going on for quite a while (I've provided some links to the PROs and CONs argument below, posted on my diigo account; please add to them!). It's a debate that's not going to go away anytime too soon.
Watching the Lifescan presentation gives me hope that cell phones will further infiltrate schools and be seen in a more positive light because it provides an indisputable argument for its inclusion. Its purpose is clear: it can do things easier than other tools can. With the Lifescan software, it can collect data in an easy way for an individual to take control of their medical situation.
A few weeks ago, on our Seedlings' Podcast, we had Andrew Sutherland on. Andrew started his own company at the age of 17, called Quizlet. It's a study aid tool that helps students prepare for quizzes in a fun and effective way. Most of the content is created by students themselves. Let me say that again: Most of the study aids at Quizlet are created by the students ---not their teachers--- in order to help themselves and other students be more successful on assessments. Andrew gave us a "heads-up" that Quizlet will soon be offering an iPhone application for students to carry their quizzes with them on their phone, rather than be restricted to using the site on a computer. It's an invaluable tool, a great example of Universal Design, and can help all students be more successful. Is this any less of an argument for why a student should be allowed access to his/her cell phone in school than the above Lifescan scenario? Is being able to take control of your own learning as important as being able to take control of your own medical condition? Do both scenarios offer freedom? I'll let you be the judge.
What about other situations? What other tools live in that phone that will help students take control of their learning?
Whoops! I called it a phone... It's a computer. A computer that fits nicely in your pocket, ready to offer infinite possibilities. Yes, it has a phone inside it, but so does my computer (Skype). Big Deal.
Are we banning phones or are we banning computers?