Monday, August 03, 2009

Cell Phones As An Instructional Tool

Is this an "efficient use of technology" or just another "let's keep the kids entertained" activity?

"Let's help them learn the way they want to," said Joe Jenkins, chief technology officer at Natomas Unified School District. "They want to use cell phones. They want to text. … They respond to it."

Jenkins recently received instructional software for cell phones. If it passes muster, he will pilot it in a class for a year before district officials decide whether to make it part of the curriculum.


Ignoring the technical problems--does each kid have a phone, are the phones compatible, does each phone have the necessary capabilities--is there anything inherently good or bad about this approach?

Where education is concerned, I'm definitely in the "do what works" camp. I haven't yet been convinced, however, that adding more silicon "works". Thirty years and untold billions or even trillions of dollars have been spent on "technology" in schools, and I don't see that there's been an education boon. TVs/VCRs/DVD players, computer labs, internet access, graphing calculators, and now cell phones. You'll have to pretend I'm from Missouri and Show Me.

5 comments:

Eric W. said...

More silicon is always the answer.

David said...

See Michael Schrage on sparkly tools.

neko said...

In my experience, the teachers often have no clue how to even operate the equipment in question and have to rely on one of the students to make it work.

Ellen K said...

While I battle the war of texting every day, there is a lesson I would like to teach using the cell phone cameras. Because they are so small, they make great editing tools. I can demonstrate to art students how to fill the space and once it's on their phone, they have no excuse not to work on the artwork at home....

Anonymous said...

Cellphone cameras are useful in showing infra red radiation.