Karen Kelly

4 cameras. 28 students. My integrated technology class was working on creating their own multimedia projects, but I had students who were becoming discouraged because they had not gotten their turn with one of the cameras yet and the project due date was looming. One of my students approached me and asked if she could use her cell phone to record her group's video. She pulled out a smartphone which was nicer than my own at the time and my response was immediate--yes, use your phone! I asked if anyone else had a cell phone with a camera and/or video capabilities and in and instant, we had 15 more cameras available. It occurred to me in that moment that I had been sitting on a resource and that perhaps educators were missing the boat by banning these devices in their classrooms. That evening I combed through my district's Acceptable Use Policy and our student handbook to find that cell phones were not actually banned in my building--they fell under a category of 'valuables' and while students were discouraged from bringing them, they were not in fact banned. I decided I needed to start looking into ways to incorporate my students' cell phones into class and hope that you might be inspired to welcome these devices into your own classes as well.

Incorporating cell phones into your classroom can be wonderful--it can also take some getting used to.
There will be challenges when one first introduces cell phone technology into the classroom so I encourage teachers to prepare their students and classrooms. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take the time to prepare your students for using their phones in class. There are many students who have no sense of etiquette when using a cell phone so it is a wonderful opportunity to teach them about how their cell phone usage can affect others. For example, talking loudly in a public setting, sending junk mail via texts, texting at inappropriate times, etc... When I first tried using Wiffiti with my students, I realized that I did not really set the expectation of how the board was to be used. I assumed students would know to only send in responses that related to the question being posed. I was frustrated within the first five minutes because the Wiffiti board became cluttered with nonsense--mainly from one student who thought the immediate posting of his random thoughts was so amazing/amusing. I realized two things. First, that students do need time to play and get over the novelty of having their phones in class. Second, that students needed strict guidelines for appropriate use and consequences in place for those who disrespect the learning environment. Once students have the expectations made clear, the learning environment with cell phones can become very productive.



No Cell Phone? No Problem!

Text Messaging/SMS

Texting in the Classroom

Texting to Connect with Students at Home

Preparing your Classroom for Cell Phone

Multi-Media Projects

Author Reflection

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