I’ve been following Steve Dembo’s various blogs for a few months now, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear him speak. Especially in a session with the promise of learning how Gameboys and other handheld entertainment devices are being used in education.
The premise of the presentation is that while most students come to school with cell phones, mobile gaming devices, even laptops and PDAs, it’s only the laptops we allow them to use, despite how well some of the previously mentioned handheld devices are suited for educational purposes. With stats like 94% of teens that are online using the Internet for school research and 87% of parents believing that the Internet helps their students learn, Steve makes a great case for using all of the “fun” little handhelds to watch rich-media, read blogs, and even communicate via voice or e-mail. AND, the cost is non-existent for the school district because so many of the students already have the devices. Great on theory, but are schools actually doing this?
They sure are, and Steve gave us a few examples:
CellFlix Festival sponsored by Ithaca College (Steve showed us a great 30 second movie recorded complete on the cellphone)
1:1 Computing in South Africa. Students were given Internet enabled cellphones and mobile access to Wikipedia so that they could use text-to-speech software to learn new things without even the ability to read. No access to computers, no wi-fi, and these students are learning.
Maplesden Noakes school in the UK: Students were given Sony PSPs and wireless Internet access for general web browsing and listening to recordings and podcasts on the net.
Steve then asked the question, what can you do with the cellphone in your pocket? Amazingly quite a lot.
- Live Internet searching
- Image searching
- Reference sites and research
- Google Maps
- Wapedia (mirror of Wikipedia specifically formatted for cellphones)
- Semapedia (special images that will take your cellphone to a webpage about that location in the physical world when you take a picture of them).
- Podcasting (Gcast will let you create a podcast by recording a message via phone. Call the number at the end of the day and record a message of the day for your classroom, homework podcast, or just let students reflect on what they learned and it will be saved and posted to whichever website you choose when you hang up the phone.)
Steve then wrapped up the presentation nicely by brining all of his thoughts full circle. I’m not as eloquent as he is, but his basic message was clear; If learning is truly life-long and access to information from around the world is available outside of the classroom in a huge variety of ways, why not bring it into the classroom and utilize it for learning now?