More and more I am becoming intrigued by the idea of using cell phones as learning tool. I know that there are educators who are gasping right now after reading that last sentence. Cell phones in the classroom? How can that be useful? Shouldn’t we ban them?
I can understand educators who have these thoughts because not that long ago I was one of them. I saw cell phones mainly as a nuisance that went off in class or were used for nefarious text-messaging. However, in the past few months I have grown to envision these ubiquitous devices as learning tools too.
My change in philosophy started when I stumbled across Liz Kolb’s blog – From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning. This University of Michigan doctoral student is full of innovative ideas and resources when it comes to using cell phones in the classroom. Liz actually has so many great ideas that I can’t wait until her book finally comes out this summer so that I can kind of “catch up.” On the lower right side of her blog there are also links to a collection of articles on using cell phones in the classroom. It was because of one of her posts that I originally tried using Wiffiti and it was a smashing success. I still get asked on an almost daily basis, “Are we using Wiffiti today?” While Wiffiti isn’t perfect (I’d like to see an separate educational version) and some of my students still need to work on their text-messaging skills, I could certainly see the power of using cell phones in the classroom. I keep finding more ideas from other educators. For example, here is a post from Karl Fisch’s blog yesterday that has me thinking a little more about using cell phones as a research tool.
Last night I Stumbled Upon another cell phone tool – Quipit. This free website allows you to copy documents, notes, or whiteboard text by snapping a picture with your cell phone or digital camera. Once you have taken the picture you email the file from your phone or computer to Quipit. Once Quipit receives your file they will convert it into a PDF and email it back to you. Through some sort of algorithm they actually improve the quality of the image when its turned into a PDF. Its very cool and kind of handy for making a quick copy of something for you or someone else. I can see students at home text messaging each other, “Hey I lost my copy of tonight’s worksheet. Could you snap an image of yours and send me the pdf?”
Just another reason to give cell phones a second thought…
Follow Up: Just minutes after publishing this post to the world my Twitter friend ZiggyU sent me a link to this wiki full of even more cell phone in the classroom resources. See I told you my personal learning network does all of the work for me.