When we left off, we posed the question, "How could a teacher use cell phones in the classroom?" Here are some of the top applications being used today:
1. Using Poll Everywhere as a formative assessment tool. This program (free up to 30 responses per question) reminds many of the "Clicker" classroom response systems. Post a question, factual or opinion-seeking, and have students text in their answers. The website will generate instant graphed feedback. Use it to assess prior knowledge, to check students understanding, or to gather data on classroom opinion surveys.
2. Using Gabcast as a podcast tool. Gabcast allows you to record a phone message, and then it takes the file and posts it "podcast-ready" on the internet for you. It takes a lot of the technical knowledge of making a podcast (like via Audacity) out of the equation, and cell phones can give more students access when computers are scarce. Podcasts can be not only student projects and speeches, but also student singing or playing of instruments, and recording a classroom discussion. A different spin on this, use cell phones for students to record comments to voicethreads (I have an earlier look at voicethread here).
3. Use as an organizational tool. Depending on the phone that you have, they will come with notepad, calendar, and contact information. These tools can help those who struggle with organization since they are all contained in one place (the phone), and it ties into skills they already have. If you would like more than what your phone can provide, Dial2Do is a tool where you call in and it can send an automated email reminder (as well as many other functions).
4. Use as a text alert tool. A program like TextMarks can organize a group (such as a class) so that they can all give and receive text alerts and be on the same page. TextMarks advertises this as "Many-to-Many Text Discussions". This again ties into the way students communicate and connect today (sending email to a student account is so 2002).
5. Using Flickr or Blogger as a photocast tool. Students take images (or even video) with their phones camera and then post the images through a call. In addition to visual literacy projects, this too is a formative assessment tool, having students show updates on different steps in a process they are doing.
Like many other Web 2.0 tools, these tools are free for basic use. A special word of caution for students to know their plans, as texting can result in charges. UPDATE: As of 3/1/09, Gabcast is no longer a free service. While it isn't quite as featured as Gabcast, try out Gcast as an alternative.
In an upcoming post, we'll look at some of other cautions educators should be thinking about before making the cell phone plunge.