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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Reflections about Web 2.0: Cell Phone use for learning


Whenever cell phone use in the classroom comes up, there's excitement about the possibilities for learning and engagement. Inevitably roadblocks are raised because of the potential abuses or inequity of resources. Suddenly the energized conversation bogs down and is mired in the "why it's not possible." Reminds me of the conversations around using the Internet for learning 15 years ago. The unknown, or rather "unfamiliar", can be the biggest obstacle to the richness and freedom that comes with possibility. In this case, using cell phones to support student learning.

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Children using cell phones to chat or pass answers is as challenging to deal with as those students who pass notes and conceal text books or notes during tests. During a test, if we're walking around the room, proximity inhibits cheating of "any" fashion. I can't imagine any instructor sitting behind their desk while administering a test. Can you? It's not that I don't trust my students, movement around the classroom helps keep them focused and makes me available to offer guidance, not answers.

For those industrious students who think of and plot out innovative ways to circumvent the rules, I want to find ways to channel that energy for "good." Thinking about it now, those kids are our future engineers, inventors, scientists, and teachers. No, I'm not implying anything shady here. Those occupations require ingenuity and thinking outside of the box.

Concern for misuse of cell phones is a serious issue to problem solve. The approach to finding answers could be best effective if we look for ways how to do, and not let fear or unfamiliarity forces us into a U-Turn.