The Cell Phone and Education Connection : It is Time to Answer the Call!

cell_phoePicture courtesy creative commons:  flickr – author: by jonjon_2k8

I have started this post with what I believe is great foundation of information regarding cell phones in education. If you wish to get right to some amazing resources and links then scroll down to the Resources Section. Please take time to suggest ideas you have for cell phones in education . You are always invited to join my 21centuryedtech Wiki that contains more in depth ideas for 21st Century Learning. – Mike

The Facts, Philosophy, and Reflection – On July 14, 2009, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared ” K12 needs to integrate cell phones into its classrooms”.  The nations top educational leader has given educational credibility to a device that for years has been viewed as  unwanted technology in the classroom. Perhaps educators have been stuck with a busy signal, caught on  call waiting, or have just been reluctant to answer the cell phone call. It is clear that Arne Duncan has opened up new lines of communication and started suggesting that some new ring tones  be implemented. Cell phones have become a  necessary device  in society and can no longer be ignored by education. An MIT study found that 30%  of people view  cell phones as an  invention people hate the most, but can’t live without. It was at the top of the MIT  list, beating out the alarm clock (25 percent) and the television (23 percent). According to the  University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research study, 83 percent of respondents said cell phones have made life easier. This beat the Internet, which found  itself in second place at 76 percent. M:Metrics, which tracks mobile data use, found that 61 million users having tried text messaging at least once. All of these mentioned studies come from 2004/2005, imagine what the new numbers could suggest!

It is a fact that more students and their parents have access to a cell phone at home than to a connected computer. Cell phones may be one of the most abundant, yet underused, pieces of technology in the educational setting. While it is important that schools maintain prudent and effective policies regarding cell phones in school, it is important to note that cell phones can be used to engage students and provide meaningful learning experiences. The cell phone can be a tool both in and out of school. Looking at students specifically, 80% of teenagers (17 million) in 2009 own a wireless device. This is an amazing 40% increase since 2004. Even more amazing, 46% of tweens own a cell phone, with most kids getting their first phone between 10 and 11 years of age. Media marketers are very aware of this and are preparing their business plans;  shouldn’t educators also be planning? A recent Horizon report  entitled One Year or Less : Mobile provides  a wealth of information for educators. The intent of this posting  is to not debate, but to provide educators some important first steps in using cell phones (mobile technology) in the classroom. At the onset, be aware of your district’s current policy, and be ready to advocate for change.

Resources For Cell Phones In Education – Below I have posted some outstanding resources and ideas for using cell phones in education. Some of these ideas involve students, others can be used  just by the teacher for preparing, communicating, creating, and organizing.

Making podcasts, hosting conference calls, and recording by phone – Connect with Gabcast. A great way for students to connect and it also allows you to make an audio podcast using an ordinary phone. Listen to my Gabcast Introduction. Another great site is Gcast, which allows some editing using its basic feature and can publish to a public web site. It also provides free music that could be used in podcasts or other multimedia productions. Another service called Free Conferencing Pro provides the ability to host conference calls and create an MP3 file of those calls. Last, Jott is a great telephone service that provides speech to text conversion. Imagine the possibilities when students can send emails from their cell phones whether they have a computer connection from home or not. Unfortunately it is no longer completely free, but Reqall could fill the void. For a small annual cost  you can get some pro features. The free version, however,  could be a great way for kids to keep track of homework. Check out this video created by David Pogue on the Reqall service. Another service with homework tracking possibilities is BrainCast. The dependable service, Voice Thread , that has been used with computers with Web 2.0, can also be used with cell phones. This web site explains seven reasons for using Voice Thread in education.

Still pictures and video with a cell phone – Note that while many of these sites work with cell phones, computers can also be used to access them. Blogger has a photo blog area but, due to its instant posting to a public area,  may not be beneficial for classroom use. On the other hand, Photobucket allows a classroom teacher to set up one account via email and have the whole class post pictures or videos to it. The great plus of Photobucket is that the teacher has control over what can be viewed. Students are able to edit, mix up, and create slide shows of the pictures inside of Photobucket. Pictures can be sent to Facebook,  Myspace,  Blogger, and Live Journal. Many people do not realize that Flickr can also be used for direct transmission from a cell phone using the Flickr Mobile Site. A private area can be set up by the teacher that all students can access. Flickr also has an agreement with Picnik that allows for picture editing. Youtube gives the opportunity to post videos from cell phones on a private channel. A service called Motion Box allows for both posting and editing of videos. Another good online video editing service is Jay Cut. Flagr is a resource that will allow pictures to be geotagged to a map. This has many possiblities and Flagr Cell Phone Instructions are posted. If you want to make still videos with voice narration then Yodio is the perfect free tool. While you can use a computer, a complete Yodio can be made with a cell phone.

Other Ideas

Polling web sites using cell phones
Polls Everywhere Great free polling service for small groups. Will handle larger groups for a fee. Great alternative to classroom clickers!
Mobiode – For polls that demand just a little more. Free service allows for one survey at a time with advertisement on web page.

Mobile blogs. websites, and text messaging services
Zinadoo allows individuals to make a web site for the very small screen. Great for student sharing and also for teachers to distribute information.
Winksite is another place to create a mobile web site.
FeedM8 allows a person to set up a mobile blog for cell phone use.
Pinger allows total class alert and feedback.
Remember The Milk provides the ability to make lists and send out email and text reminders. It is also a great Web 2.0 site for computer use. is a collaboration tool that also connects with other Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter. Great computer tool also. See Video.


Infinite Thinking Machine – Cell Phones in Education

District Administration – Leadership + Mobile Technologies = Educational Benefits

Cool Cat Teacher – Making The Case For Cell Phones In Education

Open Education – Cell Phones – Time to Lift the Ban on Mobiles in the School Setting

Book by Liz Kolb – From Toy to Tool : Connecting Student Cell Phones To Education

Conclusion – Please take a moment to share a resource by either reply or email. Feel free to visit my 21centuryedtech Wiki for even more resources on 21st Century Learning. Cell phones can help teachers get relief from the  busy signal.   Educators must get off call waiting by taking small steps toward a  future that will be filled with portable communication devices. The connection is already here, it is time for all of us to answer the call!



Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Cell Phone and Education Connection : It is Time to Answer the Call!

  1. Ron

    Nice post – send pictures to cell phone ..Keep Posting– Tip: Keep your post active- commenting helps it – Ron send pictures to cell phone

    • mjgormans

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the tip. I am constantly analyzing both sites. I like seeing the numbers go up but what is real special is the comments from people that read. I appreciate the time you took and I will keep posting. Wishing you the best – Mike

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s