• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.


SmartPhones in the Classroom

This version was saved 9 years, 10 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Roxann Nys
on March 8, 2011 at 10:48:36 pm

Smartphones in the classroom?

Yes, there are many educational applications!


The cellphone industry is making a BIG pitch for using smartphones in the classroom. And, of course, there are a variety of opinions out there about using and not using them. My personal opinion--Why not? They are amazing tools, not toys, and so many kids are already carrying them around on a daily basis. Why not show them how they can use them to learn? When are we educators going to start connecting our kids to the real world? If we don't, I believe we'll find them looking elsewhere for learning experiences they can relate to...


How do we move away from this?


Cell Phone Policies

Many area districts are moving toward loosening up policies regarding cell phone use in schools, allowing students to use them during free time (lunch) and giving teachers the option to design their curriculum around the use of mobile devices. In my opinion, districts may be wisest to consider revamping their AUP's (Acceptable Use Policies) to include mobile devices, along with Web2.0 tools. The movement towards embracing the use of cell phones by students also must include taking time to educate students on proper use of phones at school, something that can be done within the classroom as teachers better understand the power of these devices and model effective use.


Here are a few resources that may be helpful as your district considers policy:



Need the 411 on text speak?

How many of these often used text abbreviations do you know?

idk                fb me        brb                    10Q

imo                <33            ta                         im
jk or j/k          ur               r                          lol
wb                  sup            tnx or txs             ta or taw
zzz                 cul8r          sms                     182


If you don't know what many of the mean, here are some useful text speak resources to help you:

Digital Life: Understanding Text Message Shortcuts-Cliffs Notes (free)

Text Messaging, Chat Abbreviations, and Smiley Faces-Webopedia

Translate text messages into plain English OR plain English into text abbreviations at lingo2word.com

The Largest List of Text Message Shorthand...on the Web  (R rated-includes offensive text language)


Some Creative Ways to Use Cell Phones in Classrooms


Cell Phones and Time Management

Reminders and alarms are some of the most useful, built-in tools on a cell phone. Most cell phones come with the ability for you to set an alarm at a certain time of day or on a certain date. You can set alarms to remind you when assignments or projects are due or when a test is coming up. These reminders can be set up weeks and months ahead of time. Students can also set reminders for themselves for homework time (to help keep them from texting right through it.)


Cell Phone as Audio Tools

  • Many cell phones come equipped with a voice recorder. If you tend to forget things, this is a very handy tool. Use the recorder to help you remember homework assignments, memorize terms, practice foreign language pronunciation, and dozens of other tasks. If your phone doesn't have the voice recording feature, you can accomplish many of the same tasks by sending yourself a voice message.

Many schools have their own in-school news programs and the voice recorders on cell phones are handy when conducting interviews to include in news stories.


  • Yodio (a mashup of the terms Your and Audio) Create a free account and link it to your cell phone number. Call the Yodio number and record your voice. Create a YodioCard which includes 1 min. of audio and 1 image for free. Create longer YodioCasts or YodioTours if you wish to be entrepreneurial (for a fee.) Consider how you could use Yodios:
    • with students on field trips-taking pics with cameras and recording their observations
    • as a way of receiving feedback from students after a lesson 
    • younger students could comment on drawings they've made and easily share with families via your class website (you can embed them) or via email. 


Here's their "quick guide"

My first Yodio. :-)



Getting the most out of your cell phone camera

The camera function, when used appropriately, can be a very useful tool. With more focus on multimedia reports and presentations the camera allows you to capture images on your phone wherever you find them. Do remember rules about copyright, however! Also, keep in mind that many cell phone cameras take lower quality pictures/video, so when you transfer them for use elsewhere, remember that you will not be able to enlarge images very much.


There are several ways you may be able to save and transfer the picture. Depending on the cell phone, you may be able to use a memory card, Bluetooth technology, or a USB cable that connects your cell phone with your computer. In some cases, you may be able to email the images to yourself and then add them to your projects via your computer. You may have to do a little detective work to find the best method for your phone.


Leverage Your Contacts Function

Every cell phone comes with a built in contacts/addresses function. A great use of this "app" is as a vocabulary study list. Enter the words then, in the "notes" section of the contact, enter the definition of the word. Create a "group" for each separate list (most phones have this feature) and make it easy to keep them organized. When the contacts list is opened, you'll see just the words listed. Students can quiz themselves on the meaning and then tap the word to open up the definition info they stored in the notes. Students can also enter spelling words into a group and pull out their phones to review/study whenever they have a few extra minutes.


Google Search-Mobile

From the blog "Classroom in the Cloud"

Did you know Google is accessible by text message? Try it out – send this text right now to 466453 (google): Define disdain

In moments you will receive a text back with a list of definitions matching the word disdain. Think of the possibilities if all of your students had a comprehensive dictionary available at their fingertips. For example: Next time you take a class trip to the zoo, have students define the animals' scientific names that are displayed in front of each exhibit. A later discussion on these names could be a great way to explore species and taxonomy.


For cell/smart phones with Internet browsers-

The sky is really the limit here...as long as you have good connectivity, most of the Internet is available to you (flash-based resources are usually not.) Google maps to keep you from getting lost (or for students to locate places in the news or that they're researching,) or accessing free e-books. One good source for ebooks comes from text2ph.com, a site that allows you to access books stored on its server. You just download a few pages at a time and there are hundreds of public domain novels as well as short stories available on the site. You don’t even have to download any software to use this service.  For public domain audio books available as mp3 files, which are compatible with most smart phones, try Librivox.



Thanks to Theresa Neuser, CESA 7 ETS Distance Learning Coordinator, for this info


Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all of your phones, saves your voicemail online, and transcribes your voicemail to text. Other cool features include the ability to listen in on messages while they're being left, block unwanted callers, and make cheap international calls. Google Voice is free to use. You can sign up here.


Here are some examples to use in education: 

  • Math Text Homework Hotline
    • Teachers use SMS forwarding for homework help
      • Teachers feel comfortable giving out a number
      • students can ask for help using text
      • Teacher can respond from phone, web or email
  •  Science Data Gathering
    • Students leave the classroom to gather data
      • Students forward data via text to teacher
      • Teacher collates data
      • Students return to use class set of data

Other Google SMS tricks like posting via SMS to your blog and getting text reminders of calendar events, are available here.


Verbal Response/Fluency Practice using Google Voice
From the blog "Classroom in the Cloud"
The easiest way to have a student self-edit a piece of writing is to have him/her read it out loud. Errors in punctuation, usage, and transitions become evident as the student stumbles through them. The reason why this editing strategy is rarely used is a matter of logistics. A teacher can't ask 25 kids to read out loud at once in class, and there's no guarantee they'll do it at home if assigned as homework. Unless, of course, they can be held accountable. That's where Google Voice comes in. The service provides the user (presumably the teacher) with a free phone number that comes with voice mail that is automatically transcribed and emailed. This is ideal for several reasons. First, the phone number does not have to be connected to a working phone (so students have no direct way to call the teacher). Second, the teacher has two ways of assessing student work – aurally and by reading the transcript. There are other pay services (Jott, Gabcast, Gcast) that work in a similar way, but hands down, Google Voice is the best option


Similarly, you can use Google Voice as a way for students to perfect a speech  

      • Students call in and give their speech
      • Students and teacher can listen to speech
      • Teacher can download or email speech to students
      • Transcription will tell if student is they are enunciating and speed is correct


Or, for a foreign language class - Sentence Structure (or other word/phrase practice)

      • Students speak sentences in English and the foreign language
      • Teacher and student can listen to it for critique
      • Message is stored so students and teacher can see progression of fluency



Create a text message summary of a literary work

Check out this example project from one student. 


Gather Instant Responses

  • Twitter in the classroom and as part of your PLN (personal learning network)


I use Twitter (on my smart phone and on my laptop) as part of my PLN (Personal Learning Network) to stay abreast of what’s happening with those I follow. Of course, not everything everyone posts is earth-shattering or important or even informative, but I have found it a good way to keep “in the know” about many new developments/announcements about EdTech info.

When you set up your Twitter account you have options as to who to follow and who can follow you (I know, at first it seems a little creepy…someone following you…) but you have complete control at all times. Yes, there are spammers who will try to follow you, but you can easily block them.


Twitter will FORCE you to say whatever you want to say in 140 characters or less. What a great way to learn to be concise.

If you are using Twitter (or aren’t but perhaps considering it,) below are two very interesting links you may want to check out. BTW, Green Bay Schools is now using Twitter to update users about the latest district happenings! One of their “followers” is local TV station WFRV. What a great way to get the word out to the community!


Think how many of your students have cell phones and access to text messaging. Twitter could be a useful tool for you to remind them about an assignment due or a test coming up or ANYTHING else!


Consider Twitter–email is SO yesterday! :-)


How can Twitter might fit into learning environments? Dr. Monica Rankin, Professor of History at the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, wanted to reach more students and involve more people in class discussions both in and out of the classroom. She had heard of Twitter... She collaborated with the UT Dallas, Arts and Technology - Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) faculty to create this experiment. This video is absolutely worth a look. (posted by Ian Jukes)


Check out further resources about Twitter, including how to get started and a Twitter vocabularly link on my wiki.


How does it work? Create an account online and then

  1. You ask ask a question
  2. Audience responds using mobile phones (or Twitter or the web)
  3. Responses are displayed via PowerPoint, Keynote or the web

Poll Everywhere is free for audiences of 32 people (for the K-12 plan) or less and they offer paid plans for larger audiences. K-12 and Higher Education semester-long plans are also available.  The individual teacher plan ($50/year) allows you to export responses for grading purposes as well as moderate responses before they are posted.


Try out a PollEverywhere poll about using cell phones in the classroom!


Think of Wiffiti as an interactive whiteboard for your classroom or event. New Wiffiti messages are instantly displayed center screen and are easily viewable from a distance. Older messages then fade back and move as an animated cloud, providing enough ambient activity to continually stimulate audience attention and encourage engagement. Interactivity is multi-modal - it can happen at the location via mobile phones, or online via easily embeddable website widgets. Incoming content streams and web and mobile messages update across all instances of the addressed Wiffiti screen automatically.


To avoid anonymous posts, users can register on the Wiffiti site, connect their cell phones and create their own names, which can then be shared with teachers. Note: you cannot delete individual posts from your Wiffiti screen, but you can delete a screen. To get public results on a topic, try adding keywords to your screen.


Lots of potential for use in your classroom or at special events and more.


Here's a sample Wiffiti board I created to test the service. Try it out!

From the blog "Classroom in the Cloud"
You don't have to abandon the idea of using personal clickers in your class when your school isn't willing to shell out more than $1200 for an audience response system. Text The Mob allows a user to create multiple choice questions, polls, and open-ended questions that can be answered by SMS. All the teacher needs to do is set it up on a projector. The responses show up in real time and are identified by the last 4 digits of the students' cell number. This allows students who normally don't participate to interact anonymously. Teachers can also record these numbers before hand and use them to assess individual performance. Since it's the incomplete cell number teachers won't have to worry about accusations of keeping students' personal phone numbers. The free option gives you 3 questions and up to 50 participants per question. 


Study using your cell phone

Looking for ways to improve and increase retention of material outside of the classroom? StudyBoost is a tool that may help you. (Beta right now, but seems to work well enough to try it out!) StudyBoost could help make studying easy and convenient by complimenting studies using Instant Messaging or Text Messaging. You will need to set up an account online first, and then connect it to an existing social network (like Facebook, Google Talk) to use IM-ing, or to your cell phone number to use text messaging.


Cell Phone Safety

LG has teamed up with Jane Lynch of Glee to bring some mobile safety education to tweens and teens (and parents!) They have some lessons and a series of videos that are perfect for introducing mobile safety, discussions about sexting, mobile harassment, mobile teasing, driving and texting, and more with teenagers.


Additional Resources

CESA 7's iThings wiki pages for lots of info about using iPhones, iPods, iPads in the classroom (including how to make plan, shoot, edit and publish a movie on an iPhone!)


Skype information and resources on my wiki page about videoconferencing (about 2/3 down the page)


Another article of interest is "Educators Look at Using Cell Phones as Teaching Tools" The article features how cell phones are being used in Joe Wood's science class at Somerset Middle School in Modesto, CA. [published in Aug 03, 2009, The Sacramento Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX]


I particularly enjoyed reading the eBooksAbout blog post about Smartphones in the Classroom which was written as commentary on a New York Times article written in Feb. 2009.


 "From Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education" This book is written by Liz Kolb, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan studying Learning Technologies. She is also an adjunct Professor at Madonna University and a former high school teacher and technology coordinator. Liz maintains a website called "CellPhonesInLearning.com"  Inside Michigan Education conducted an interview with Liz that you can read online.


For more about using Smartphones in the classroom, check out Bard Williams, Ed.D. book Handheld Computers And Smartphones In Secondary Schools: A Guide To Hands-On Learning available from ISTE the International Society for Technology in Education


I particularly enjoyed reading the eBooksAbout blog post about Smartphones in the Classroom which was written as commentary on a New York Times article written in Feb. 2009.


Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project: Y U Luv Texts, H8 Calls: We Want to Reach Others But Not to Be Interrupted

"Texting's rise over conversation is changing the way we interact, social scientists and researchers say."



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