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Our students are not allowed to make a call from inside the building but cell phones are used personally by students as well as for educational purposes. It is not mainstream by any means. However, I have watched students use their iPhones to record a class discussion then use the camera feature to take a pictures of diagrams on the board. Recently, a student was giving a presentation in class and used during the presentation. The students used their phones, pda's or cell phones to text in their responses which were then collected by and projected on the board in real time. This captured the immediate responses and thoughts that then informed further discussion. The responses are anonymous which I think also added to the dynamics of the "seed" for discussion. The students in the class were visible and audibly more engaged in the student led discussion. The best part, the students did not need to be taught how this was to be done. Simply go to a specific site or text your message to a specific number. Since text messaging is one of their main forms of communication. No instructions were necessary. Cell phones are growing in popularity. With today's Smart-phones, it is only a matter of time before additional advancements in the technology, interface and applications make it possible to replace the classroom laptop with the cell phone.

At FETC last month, Hall Davidson showed pictures of an old $3500 VCR; a camera; a computer for email, web surfing, and texting; a video camera; a watch; a "clicker"; and a telephone to drive home the point that our students are carrying these powerful devices around in their pockets every day. A majority of American high school students say what they do in school is irrelevant to their "real" lives. Isn't it time we find a way to change that and build a sane policy around cell phone use and leverage that valuable asset to improve education?

"I have a device that is cheap enough all of your students could have one of their own that allows free access to the wealth of all human knowledge, places more information in their pocket than exists in the entire school library, the ability to communicate with almost anyone, and the ability to get answers from experts in all areas of study. Do you want your students to have these devices in your classroom?' " =97 Carl Anderson, Rochester, MN

It's too bad that schools see cell phones as a nuisance and display little understanding of their educational uses. See some ideas below. Keep in mind that it's not the tool that's important. It's a spark or "engagement" via a tool that most students already own, not how to use, and enjoy.

-I've "mobcasted" with students. I have a description of my "cell phone unit wrap up" activity, complete with an audio excerpt, at my EdTechTeacher web site:

-Record and play student impressions while on a field trip to a museum or historic site. Try

-Peruse Liz Kolb's presentation called "Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools" and read the blog comments.

-Audio blog. Students dial a number, leave a message, and their recording is posted into a blog.

-Record an interview, poem, short story, virtual tour as part of a project

-Text kids homework and other classroom materials. (Email is, like, so pass= e)

-Memorize foreign language vocabulary using flash cards for cell phones. Try

-Create mobile phone quizzes in MS Paint: phone-quizzes-in-ms-paint.html

-Interview local residents as part of a local history project

Resources to Deal with Issues of Inappropriate UseEdit

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