Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 | communication, technology
When the use of cell phones in the classroom becomes a problem – because its use is viewed as distracting to learners – some schools ban its use altogether. You can imagine how learners resist this restriction.
Most learners in schools – even the poorest ones – have cell phones in their pockets or bags. Efforts to curb the explosive use of these devices are bound to be countered with learner schemes to use them in an illicit way.
Isn’t there a better way to handle the situation?
How about using the fascination of learners with their cell phones to improve learning? This can be done if innovative ways are found to harness the phones in the hands of learners as teaching and learning tools. This approach has many apparent advantages:
Learners already own cell phones – you do not have to buy technology devices for them.
You don’t have to introduce technology into the classroom – it is already there.
Since the instruments are the property of learners, you don’t have to protect equipment against vandalism.
Children love their cell phones and are keen to show off what they can do with them.
Pilot projects are under way to determine practical applications of mobile phones in the classroom. A few simple uses are already evident:
By sending an interesting text message (SMS) in a target language to learners on a regular basis (even after school hours) their literacy is enhanced. Imagine how you could build the vocabulary of your class.
Mobile ‘novels’ are already available where learners receive bite size instalments.
When learners use the camera function of cell phones, they can record images of science experiments, or other visual displays, for future revision.
Some vendors of educational software are developing programs suitable for classroom use. With a cell phone a learner can see and hear, without disturbing the rest of the class.
The ubiquitous use of cell phones makes them ideal tools for teaching and learning. Keep your eyes – and minds – open for developments in this area in the future.
For more technology tips for teachers click here.