What would happen if instead of silencing or confiscating cell phones in the classroom, teachers encouraged students to use them? Hall Davidson, the director of the Discovery Educator Network, wants teachers to realize the potential power cell phones hold for enlivening lessons and engaging students in the content they are learning.
Most cell phones, Davidson points out, now have a number of technological features that schools used to pay thousands of dollars for as separate devices—camera, video recorder, GPS, text messaging, music player—and many students, even in low-income areas, own one.
At a weeklong workshop for a corps of teachers who’ve become leaders in using instructional technology, Davidson gave a glimpse of what might be coming to a classroom near you.
“Are we going to ignore a device that does all this stuff?” he asked the group of about 60 teachers, shown here at the workshop held at the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.
Students, for example, can do first-person interviews with a cell phone, with audio and/or video that can be posted to school wikis and Web sites, to enhance their reports and projects. Students can receive class assignments and start their research using Web features on their cell phones. They can record themselves practicing their instruments, or practicing a foreign language, and send the recordings to their teachers.
While many of the potential applications are not quite ready for prime time, Davidson thinks that within a year or so they will be, but only if educators see their potential and figure out how to integrate the technology well.
The participants in the DEN workshops are already on the bandwagon.
Do you think that schools in general will embrace the idea?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.