iPhones Take Over NECC09!

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Well, did that title catch your eye? For the most part it did feel like iPhones and their non-3G brethren, the iPod Touch or iTouch, were the focus of many conversations at NECC09.  The title of this blog post actually has multiple meanings.  First of all, there were so many of us at NECC09 with iPhones (and other smartphones I assume) that at some moments during the conference you couldn’t even send a text message, much less update your Facebook page or send out a tweet.  Fortunately, by the end of the first day the cellular providers in DC seemed to figure out a bunch of tech-head teachers had descended on the Washington Convention Center and the network flowed much better during the second on third days of the conference.  Secondly, iPhone and iTouches seemed to take over the conference because there seems to be a palpable demand for learning how to best use these devices with students.  According to Hall Davidson, there were 13 sessions on using cell phones in the classroom at NECC09, compared with only two at NECC08.  While these classes were focused on “cell phones” the iPhone and iTouch really seemed to dominate the conversation.  I believe this largely occurred due to the huge variety of educational applications for these two devices….and frankly they have a coolness factor with students unparalleled by any other cellphone or MP3 player.  At my former school site iTouches and iPhones were the graduation and Christmas gifts du jour.

So, assuming your students are anything like mine you might be wondering, “How can I leverage these devices for good?”  Well, I attended three different sessions on the instructional uses of cell phones and iPhones/iTouches and each one presented a wealth of information.  Below are my 5 Best Cell Phone Take Aways from NECC09 in no particular order.  Post a comment to share any others you have discovered and I’d love some help with #5!

  1. LG National Texting Championship: Hall Davidson showed a clip from the LG National Texting Championship.  I know many of you are probably asking, “A texting championship? Why would Joe share this.”  Well, during Hall’s presentation while we all collectively laughed together at the mere thought of this competencies Hall asked, “Do you think these tools have power? Shouldn’t we find ways for using these in the classroom? Look, they’re even begging to use them blindfolded?”  I would certainly say YES!..and this video from the Wall Street Journal about the championship is just a great reminder of the potential power these tools possess.
  2. iEAR – Educational App Review:  When I first heard of this site I was amazed that I hadn’t thought to search for it before.  iEAR.org contains a wealth of information an iPhone and iTouch applications for use in the classroom.  The applications on this site are reviewed for their instructional appropriateness.  iEAR also has a NING community and is looking for teachers who are interested in reviewing educational applications for the iPhone and iTouch.
  3. K-12 Cell Phone Projects Wiki: Unfortunately, I was not able to see Liz Kolb in person, but her fantastic wiki, a collection of ideas for using cellphones in the classroom, was shared by Hall Davidson.  If you’re interested in paper learning (aka books) take a look at Liz’s Cell Phones in the Classroom book. I hope her publisher, ISTE, actually gets the book in a Kindle form soon!
  4. Learning in Hand – iPod Touch: Tony Vincent’s website, Learning in Hand, is a great collection of ideas and resources for using handhelds in the classroom.  His page on the iPod Touch has a creat collection of ideas and resources for using these tools with students.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Tony’s Wednesday afternoon session (those pesky airports and their long security lines), but the online notes from his NECC09 session are a worth a look – I really liked Lifestrips and Flipbook.
  5. PASCO Spark App for the iPhone & iTouch: Once a science teacher, always a science teacher, so I pretty much died and went to Heaven when I first heard about PASCO’s newly announced application for iPhones and iTouches.  In other words, when this software arrives students will be able to use their iPhones and iTouches with PASCO probeware to conduct scientific investigations.  Naturally, this was the first booth I sought out in the exhibit hall.  Since PASCO is based not too far from the district office, I was naturally begging the sales reps to let me pilot the software once its released.  If anyone out there has a connection I’d appreciate the shout out!  :-)

Photo: iPhone by William Hook on Flickr

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