Facebook and Cell Phones

During my internship this past semester two of the biggest “issues” that teachers seemed to be facing were facebook and cell phones. Students would often go on facebook during class if they were at a computer and many teachers complained of continually catching students text messaging on their phones in class. By the end of the semester facebook had been blocked on all student computers but cell phones were still an “issue”.

I’ve been reflecting on this for some time and recently in my ECMP 455 class we had a guest presentation from Liz Kolb, author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. View her slides here. She presented some great information and statistics which got me thinking a bit more about my stance on the issue. While I was teaching I wanted to find a way to include cell phones in my teaching and take advantage of the great tool that they are. It’s no secret that they are a very powerful tool and I felt I needed to find a way to use them not ban them. I included them in one of my Entrepreneurship 30 lessons which you can view at the bottom of this post.here (some attachments not included). I thought it went well but I believe that cell phones are a tool that may be hard to use every class, rather there needs to be a balance of their use. If they are not being used in the classroom, I’ve heard of a few different strategies for minimizing their distraction including a basket at the front of the room or holding on to them until the end of class if they are used inappropriately. I also don’t mind the idea of teaching etiquette and getting students to understand when it is rude to use your phone and also when it is appropriate to check it. I think it’s all personal preference and depends a lot on the school and students.

The thing that I am most interested in is discovering ways to use them to enhance learning in an educational setting. Liz mentioned quite a few different resources during her presentation including SCVNGR and ipadio which can be used to promote learning in different ways. I also wonder about using cell phones in physical education classes? How might one go about doing that? After doing some searching, I came across some great stuff at this Australian PE teacher’s blog.

Lastly, I want to touch back on the facebook topic that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I’m just curious as to how many schools or school divisions are blocking facebook. Is facebook available at your school? Do you think it can be useful in education?

I’m going to end this post by posing a few more questions to readers whom I would encourage to answer and discuss in the comments.

In what ways do you use or would you like to use cell phones in your classroom or school? Do you believe it helps promote learning?

Can cell phones be used in class or do they become to much of a distraction?

Below you can see a copy of Entrepreneurship lesson which included a cell phone activity.

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6 responses to “Facebook and Cell Phones

  1. Since I’ve started my website project, I’ve been connecting with so many amazing teachers who have just bombarded me with good ideas on how to include technology into the classroom.

    I had seen Jarrod’s post on cell phones in the classroom (where he demonstrated the QRcodes in math class), and was blown away.
    Imagine a PE class where you were learning about Volleyball. Imagine having this big poster explaining a skill (e.g. forearm pass), that had some pictures explaining the skill. Nothing out of the ordinary for a PE class, right? Now imagine if at the bottom of those explanations you had a QR code that you could scan with your smartphone and that brought you to a video of the teacher performing the skill. Then, imagine that underneath the explanation portion of the poster you had 3 different QR codes labeled “expert”, “intermediate”, and “novice”. Each one of those codes could link you to a video of a drill for that skill that was appropriate for your skill level. Students could learn the skill in a way that was fun for them (because they love their phones so much) and even select a drill for that skill that they would be comfortable with. Meanwhile, the teacher can go around providing feedback and evaluating their progress.

    As for Facebook, I’ve been toying around with the idea of creating a Facebook Fan Page for my PE Classes. Even though Facebook and Twitter are banned at my school, I can still update Twitter through my phone or by using socialoomph.com. The Fan Page can be linked to my twitter account and therefore get updated at the same time.

    I’m going to say that between 85-90% of my students use Facebook (that number comes from the fact that about 85-90% of them have tried to add me as a friend haha). I know they use it a lot, so if checking their news stream is a part of their daily life, why don’t I try to include some PE info into something that they already use, and like to use, a lot(A Fan Page’s status appear in its fan’s news stream)? I could start discussions on the page and post links to online educational content. Plus they’ll probably like being able to see that their all on the page together.

    Just some ideas…

  2. I just made a prototype of the poster I described in my comment. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/b5RM8L

  3. I have created a myspace under the Moore PE name, (myspace is much more popular with middle school students), the only reason I have done so is because my Twitter updates update the myspace status. I do not interact with students on myspace because of the negative perception. But, students are there and they are not going to my static site, http://www.moorepe.com, so if put a link in a twitter update then kids might follow the link.
    As far as social networking goes, I have found that Twitter is so good for professional networking and I have backed off of using it for my students somewhat. I have done Twitter trivia and given away prizes, etc.
    I do think that schools should have a Facebook account, twitter, and a blog. Overall, in my use of technology, I have found that it is the fuel that drives the students who are not as comfortable and active in my classroom. They are my audience for any type of technology I use. Kids that love to be active usually do not get involved with my website or twitter updates. Basically the introvert in the classroom becomes the extrovert online.

  4. Great topic Jordan! I believe that we can incorporate cell phones into our classrooms and that students need to be taught how to use them responsibly.

    Have you ever hear of Poll Everywhere? (http://www.polleverywhere.com/) It is a free online tool that allows users to create a poll or question that responders can reply to via text, or even twitter. Once a person has replied the answer is displayed right below the poll question withing seconds! Try it out for yourself with the sample poll I created below. (Hint – just remember to put β€œCAST 9484β€³ before your actual message in the body of your text)

    This is a tool we could use in a classroom to have students text in the responses to participate in a class discussion.

  5. @Joey Great idea with cell phone activity and also the facebook fan page. I’ve left a comment on your blog post.

    @Kyle I agree that all schools should have some presence online in these networks. I’m still not sure how much presence I think they need to have. I also really agree with you about the introverts often turning to extroverts online. It is nice to give them that outlet and opportunity to become more involved. It would be nice to somehow transfer that online extrovert activity into the classroom and social situations to see that student grow socially.

    @Amy I had not heard of that site. Thanks for the link. I’ve checked it out and it looks like it would be a great tool to use.

  6. I really like your idea of teaching cellphone etiquette in the classroom, as I often wish more people followed this. Do you think that blocking facebook on school computers is the answer to classroom distractions? Personally, from a student’s point of view, I would be using my cellphone even more frequently to check facebook updates than before! And speaking from experience, it takes a lot longer to do so on a cellphone πŸ™‚

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