Archive for the ‘cell_phone’ Category

Here’s Common Craft’s easy explanation about Augmented Reality:

This infographic links back to it’s original location on

I discovered this infographic from Louise Duncan’s blog found here:

Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog post discussing instant feedback using a back-channel titled: The Back-Channel Effect: Are Educators Ready for Real-Time Feedback. In that blog post, I suggested that real-time feed-back is being utilized by presenters and industry to gauge the experience of their audiences or their customers.  I also suggested that using tools that provide real-time feedback can allow teachers to gauge the understanding of students during a lesson.  In that blog post, I suggested that social networking sites can be a tool to allow for that type of feedback.  Another tool is text messaging.

The idea of instant feedback is not new in education.  Strategies such as providing students with a green, yellow, and red cards and periodically during a lesson asking students to hold up the appropriate colour card to express their understanding (green = understanding, yellow = moderate understanding, red = little understanding) speak to the idea that with instant feedback, a teacher can gauge the current level of student understanding and can, when necessary, modify their instruction to ensure that students are learning.  The issue of the ‘publicness’ of these declarations can lead to situations where the student doesn’t express their true level of understanding out of fear that others will see that they are having difficulty and that this may lead to later ridicule.  This situation is just as possible with coloured cards as it is with social networking sites.  While using social networking sites has the advantage that many students who may also be having the same difficulty can see the solution to their query and that students can help and support each other, social networks are very public and that may not be a good thing for a student who is shy or has a low self esteem.

This is where the text message comes in.  Text messaging has the advantage of being a private way for students to provide feedback.  It allows for an instructional correspondence to take place and allows the teacher to know who is understanding the material and who is not. Of course, teacher may be very uncomfortable sharing their phone number with students and this is a very legitimate concern.  This is where services such as Polleverywhere come in.  This pay-service allows teacher to poll students using text messaging to an intermediary so that neither the teacher nor the student has to share their personal information with each other.  More about this service can be found in my blog post Polling by Cell Phone – Can We Completely By-Pass Clickers?

Therefore, everyday tools such as cell phones and text messaging can be utilized to gain that precious feedback required to ensure that students are learning.  Ultimately, the success or failure of such a strategy will rest on the rules around acceptable use of such devices.  What do you think?

Disclaimer #1: The ideas suggested here use the text messaging features of a cell phone.  While it is true that using text messaging may incur additional charges for students and their parents, it’s likely that many, if not most, students with cell phones have plans with either unlimited text messaging or plans that give them enormous amounts of text messages per month.  Therefore, in most cases, no extra cost should incur when utilizing the ideas above.

Disclaimer #2: Some teacher unions and school districts frown upon the practice of sharing private information with students, even if it is of an instructional nature.  The ideas presented above are presented simply as ideas.  Please consult with union and district representatives if you are a teacher and are unsure if you can utilize the ideas presented above.

Click the link below to listen to the March 17, 2010 episode of CBC’s Spark where Nora Young interviews Marie Bjerede on how several North Carolina schools are working to incorporate cell phones into daily classroom instruction to increase student engagement and collaboration:

Link to the episode on CBC’s Spark website:

Direct link to the audio file:

Full Interview: Marie Bjerede on cell phones in the classroom

A little comic relief concerning mobile devices:

Disclaimer: While this post presumes the use of a smart phone, and while it is true that not all students own a smart phone, with the current shift toward smart phones, soon, smart phones will be as prevalent as cell phones are today.

When I reflect on what is traditionally thought of as a field trip in a typical K-12 school setting, what often comes to mind is a visit to a location that may have some direct or indirect connection to the unit of study being taught. The vision of students visiting different areas or exhibits with “experts” telling students why this or that is significant dances in my head. Students may walk around with paper and a pencil answering questions based on what they see or what they are told. These sheets are submitted later to the teacher to see if the students were on task. In short, field trips seem to me to be extensions of what happens in the classroom, just somewhere else.

To me this type of learning seems to be inauthentic as this way of organizing field trips seems artificial and top directed. If it is true that students learn by doing and through discovery and exploration, then asking students to fill out question sheets while on a field doesn’t appear to be an effective way to either have students learn or to measure what they have learned. When one is on a field trip, a more authentic way of learning would be allow students to explore the scene rather than to seek out answers to questions.

This is where the mobile phone comes into play. GPS locators found in many of today’s mobile phones allow students to explore their surroundings while also applying mapping skills. More and more Augmented Reality apps such as Wikitude connect GPS enabled and internet abled devices to Wikipedia so students can read up on the significance of a certain area, monument or exhibit while they are on location. With mobile phones being able to connect students to the information that they require when and where they require it, running around with a question sheet appears ineffective in comparison. When it comes to submitting a culminating activity, submitting a sheet where student could have easily copied answers from others doesn’t appear to be an effective indicator of learning or of whether students stayed on task. If, however, student can use their mobile device to take photographs, record voice and video commentary, jot down a few notes and then later submit a presentation or post their findings to a wiki demonstrating their findings and their understanding, then their experience can be captured in a more authentic and developed way.

What happens to students who don’t have these fancy phones? The answer is simply – differentiate. The purpose of learning is to allow students to access learning in ways that work for them. By allowing students to use devices that they already have, we empower them to access the content and to demonstrate their learning in ways that work for them. Those who do not have the devices can still learn using traditional tools. Before we use the criticism that ‘allowing students who have the devices use them places those without the devices at a disadvantage’, we need to think about how restricting the use of those devices from those who have and need them disadvantage students. When differentiating instruction and incorporating the principles of universal design for learning, it only makes sense that we allow students to use whatever tools they have to learn in ways that make sense to them rather than whitewashing learning to try and make it suit all students, which inevitably, it never does.

Take a look at this ringtone rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  While this is a polished advertisement created by a talented artist, it can connect to learning as it also demonstrates that there is no prescription to creativity and there is no rubric that can measure inventiveness and ingenuity.