Rather than simply telling parents about the research and benefits of using cell phones for learning, show them!
When schools decide they want to embrace the use of student devices for learning, it doesn't "start" with inviting devices into the classroom. It starts with inviting the use of devices into homework.
While parents understand why cell phones are important to stay in touch with their children and keep them safe, they may not understand their usefulness for learning. This is no surprise. Students haven’t been given the opportunity or guidance by teachers in doing so.
Before using cell phones in your classroom with students, begin giving students the option to use cell phones to complete their homework. This gives the teacher the opportunity to allow students to use cell phones for learning without classroom management concerns. It gives students (and their parents) experience in using cell phones for learning. Yet another benefit is that using cell phones to support learning at home enables educational leaders see firsthand how these tools can support student learning.
To follow are some Ideas for enabling students to use cell phones for learning at home.
Learn about culture with iPadio
A great way to learn about history or social studies is by having students share the stories of how their family ended up in the community they live. Ask students to interview a family member who knows their history and use iPadio. Have students prepare the interview questions in advance. When they’re ready they call the relative, and use three way or conference calling to dial iPadio and begin recording. When they are done, they select the # sign. Soon you’ll have a treasure-trove of primary sources about your students history that you can tie to what you’re learning in class.
Cell phones photos to learn about the environment
Teaching students about the environment? Task them with using a cell phone to take photos of animal (or plant, or insect) life in their neighborhood and email them to a class Flickr account. The subject of the email is the photo caption and the message is the description. Have students provide a caption and description that fits your assignment. Once the photos come in, there is so much to do. You can chart different life from various neighborhoods. Discuss what is found and maybe even connect with a class in another neighborhood or even another state or country to think about and compare what is found.
Get to the learning faster with Cel.ly
With Cel.ly group texting you can text rather than taking class time to ask students questions like what they know, wonder or have learned, you can text such questions. With Cel.ly all students, even the shy ones, can respond. Class time isn’t spent getting responses of those kids who always volunteer. Instead, all input is captured before class and class time can be spent discussing, not collecting the responses from all.
Capture Book Reviews with Google Voice
How often do you hear a student read a book and then say, “I can’t wait to write a book report about this!” Truth is they don’t. Why would we want them to? Instead ask them to do a book talk that will get their friends excited about the book. Have students follow a format so you know the book name and their name then have them call your Google Voice number to record the talk. Google Voice recordings can be embedded into any online space so anyone can listen. In the future when other students are trying to decide what book to read, they can listen to a book talk from a classmate to help decide.
A sensible approach
Educators open to bridging the digital divide and empowering students (and themselves) to use the tools they have access to in their homes can begin integrating cell phones into homework today. Giving students the option to use their devices at home provides a non threatening way to begin using cell phones as an instructional tool while also giving students and parents a taste of what is possible. When you're ready to bring the devices into the classroom, your students will have their own ideas of ways learning can be enhanced with cell phones.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.