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I Am A Teacher of Tomorrow and Not Yesterday!

It looks like TCDSB is going down a similar path as TDSB, pointed out in this conversation with Dean, although one can only guess at this point. (I’m sorry if I’m a pessimist)  There was a request for information on the “Use of cell phones and other electronic devices on school property .“

The survey itself is available on the TCDSB web site. I was particularly troubled by the reference to iPods, MP3 players and the likes.

The problem is not with the tools but old practices meeting today’s student. You can always turn off a phone or iPod, but by banning tools that students use everyday are we preparing our children for tomorrow or yesterday?

Cellphones in Education

This is an extended response to Dean’s Post “This is what we are dealing with” which I commented on a few times. Dean was referring to the CBC article ban of Toronto school boards on cellphones.

If we are going to disagree with a cell-phone ban then there needs to be evidence to support why we disagree, with a few of our own personal reasons, research and examples. A couple of ideas that I shared around the use of cellphones were based on features that cellphones have(I added a few more here):

  • Use photo feature to capture two blackboards full of writing that students were supposed to copy down after 100 minutes of class time by a history teacher. (Some old resentment here)
  • Use photo feature – notes, PowerPoint, diagrams – anything that needs data archiving and retrieval
  • Capture video of science experiments for labs and share the results with the teacher to annotate projects or use as part of the process.
  • Videojournalist for purpose and product
  • Students record notes from their classes by using the voice-mail features – or cell to podcast web tools.
  • Use RMinder http://www.rminder.com/ to blast voice and text reminders to students based on assignments and due dates of different events. Can even match to events in outlook, google cal, ical and more.

One of the more obvious tools is Internet browsing and web sites that could be accessed for learning. eSchoolNews as pointed out by Dean, mentions Wink Site for creating web sites that can be accessed by mobile phones. It also has a nice little education section.

Pointed out the following article from What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything!by Marc Prensky. Which includes some practical examples like the cell phone audio tours of Minute Man National Historical Park, test preparation tools, and mobile phone games.

I also pulled out the following quote which seemed appropriate to the article:

As usual, students are far ahead of their teachers on this. The first educational use they have found (in large numbers) for their cell phones is retrieving information on demand during exams. Educators, of course, refer to this as “cheating.” They might better serve their students by redefining open-book testing as open-phone testing, for example, and by encouraging, rather than quashing, student innovation in this and other areas. Let me state definitively that I am not in favor of cheating. I am in favor of adjusting the rules of test-taking and other educational practices in a way that fosters student ingenuity and creativity in using learning tools and that supports learning rather than administration.

There seems to be much more research in the UK, Europe and Australia on this, as I bookmark.

Update:

Innovate-Live Seminar Series (Registration is free.)

June 7, 2007, 1:00 PM EST
SMS as an Instructional Tool
Seminar Leader: Susana Sotillo, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Montclair State University

Preliminary results of an eight-month Short Message Service (SMS) pilot study on social networks and language functions show that students often use SMS to request clarification of class assignments, readings, and exam questions posted to the university’s course management system. Students also use text messaging to justify absences or to request favors, such as letters of reference or research guidance. This seminar will explore the use of SMS or text messaging between an instructor and college students at a large urban state university as a potential pedagogical tool for encouraging active student participation. An important question that needs to be addressed is whether it is possible for an instructor to use text messaging to pose an overarching question that addresses course goals and objectives (e.g., What is the nature of language? What functions do we perform with language?). Would this type of question generate thoughtful student responses? Since text messaging is extremely popular among entering freshmen, could the use of specific types of questions keep students interested in a semester-long conversation that would lead to what education experts refer to as the social construction of knowledge?

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