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e-Learning for Educators
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Cell Phones as Learning Tools**
 
Course Description
    

In this course, participants will learn how even the most basic cell phones can be used as powerful tools for teaching and learning. When integrated with free, web-based resources, cell phones offer students the ability to share ideas through activities such as blogging, podcasting, and data gathering. While there are many legitimate concerns about using cell phones in schools, it is important that schools prepare students for success in a world overflowing with information. It is also important for students to learn how to use technology ethically and responsibly. This workshop will highlight meaningful ways that cell phones can be used as learning tools in and out of the classroom, while also addressing the challenges and resistance that many educators face when trying to integrate cell phones into learning activities.

* Participants must be employed as a classroom teacher, as a long-term substitute during the duration of the course or as a school administrator.

**This course is recognized as a technology course and will meet the technology coursework requirements for recertification.

 
Course Syllabus
    

Cell Phones as Learning Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how even the most basic cell phones can be used as powerful tools for teaching and learning. When integrated with free, web-based resources, cell phones offer students the ability to share ideas through activities such as blogging, podcasting, and data gathering. While there are many legitimate concerns about using cell phones in schools, it is important that schools prepare students for success in a world overflowing with information. It is also important for students to learn how to use technology ethically and responsibly. This workshop will highlight meaningful ways that cell phones can be used as learning tools in and out of the classroom, while also addressing the challenges and resistance that many educators face when trying to integrate cell phones into learning activities.

Goals

During this workshop, participants will learn skills and strategies to:

  • create opportunities for students and teachers to use their own basic cell phones in their teaching and learning,

  • develop classroom projects that help students to utilize their cell phones safely and ethically in and out of school,

  • utilize web-based tools that allow students to create products, publish ideas, and demonstrate understandings by using their cell phones,

  • use cell phones to publish ideas and reflections on learning in a collaborative web space and

  • address the ethical challenges and management issues associated with incorporating cell phones into the curriculum.

Prerequisites

This is an introductory workshop for K-12 teachers, technology and curriculum specialists, school administrators, and other school personnel. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers and a basic cell phone. Participants without a texting plan will still be able to complete the majority of the workshop activities. Participants are also expected to have a means of taking digital photographs, whether via cell phone or with a stand-alone digital camera. Participants should be proficient with using email and browsing the Internet.

Session One: Cell Phones as Learning Tools

In this session participants will learn about the potential for cell phones to engage students and enhance learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom. To begin, participants will read an article and watch a video that show how cell phones are currently being used as learning tools in one Canadian classroom. To become better informed about the ways students use cell phones, they will conduct a brief survey about cell phone use and then share the results with their online colleagues. In this session’s forum, participants will discuss the digital divide between students and adults, and exchange ideas about how they currently use technology in their teaching.

Session Two: Mobile Digital Storytelling

For a while now, educators have been discussing the power of podcasting and how this technology allows students to air their ideas with a global audience. Podcasting also provides students who struggle with writing tasks the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding through speaking. The combination of cell phones and free, web-based tools now makes creating and publishing podcasts easy and accessible. In this session, participants will explore the potential of mobile podcasting and use some of the available tools that allow students to voice and publish their ideas.

Session Three: Teaching with the New Literacy of Text Messaging

Recent studies highlight the fact that most teens that have cell phones rely on text messaging as a primary way to communicate. Some teachers are beginning to explore how they can harness their students’ motivation to send text messages into positive learning experiences. During this session, participants will learn about some ways that text messaging can be used for educational purposes and will explore some free, web-based tools that move beyond basic cell-to-cell text messaging. They will also review some positive examples of how text messaging can be used as way to communicate information with a global audience.

Session Four: Cell Phone Cameras for Learning and Sharing

Nearly all cell phones sold today are equipped with a mini digital camera. While the media has recently highlighted cases where students use cell phone cameras inappropriately, this session will provide participants with some ideas for how cell phone photos and videos can allow students the opportunity to document their understanding of the world around them. In the beginning of this session, participants will become familiar with how some teachers are currently using cell phone cameras as a tool for teaching and learning, specifically in science and social studies classrooms. Later, they will have an opportunity to work with digital images as they participate in a photo scavenger hunt.

Session Five: Challenges, Considerations, and Management of Cell Phones in the Classroom

Despite the potential of cell phones as learning tools, usage of cell phones is prohibited in many classrooms throughout the country. In this session, participants will consider some of the key challenges that districts face when discussing cell phone policies. They will also think about ways that existing Acceptable Use Policies can be adapted to accommodate cell phones, and will draft a classroom permission form that could be used as a starting point for conversation within their school. In this session’s forum, participants will discuss the impact of keeping cell phones out of school at a time when students are growing more and more reliant on their mobile devices to stay in touch.

Session Six: Developing Classroom Projects with Cell Phones 

Throughout this workshop participants have had the chance to explore how cell phones can be used as tools for learning. In this session, they will reflect on the role that they would like cell phones to play in their instruction, and identify steps they can take to promote the integration of cell phones into their classroom. Participants will begin this session by learning how a fifth grade class in Dallas uses cell phones for learning. Then they will explore many other lesson ideas shared on a wiki about cell phone projects in the K-12 environment. In the discussion, participants will share their final project.