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NECC Session: It’s in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cellphones

NECC Program Description

I didn’t attend Liz Kolb‘s cell phone session, partly because it was a hands-on session (and packed) and my cell phone doesn’t do much and also because I invited her to present at our TechCamp event in August. I heard a gal in front of me yesterday practically giddy about Liz’s presentation, so I’m really looking forward to TechCamp!

So now I’m sitting in Hall Davidson’s session…I can listen and not have to participate with my worthless phone since we’re in an auditorium. Hall is always entertaining and I’m sure I’ll be able to snag a few bits of information from him.

If you have a cell phone, you have a…

  • Telephone
  • Text Messenger
  • Still Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Video Viewer
  • Podcaster
  • GPS
  • Music Player

There really shouldn’t be a discussion on “should we ban phones?” That really shouldn’t be a question…they are here! Parents are ultimately the ones who are determining if kids are going to have phones…they can monitor what their kids are up to in a number of ways. They love that! So cell phones aren’t going anywhere…

Cell phones sound a lot like the way things were when the web showed up…”this thing won’t take off!” There are 3.3 billion working cell phones on the planet…that’s half the world’s population! Who has them? Tons in the third world…who forbids them? The Taliban and your local high school.

What can you do with a cell phone?

  • Watch live IP security cameras from anywhere
  • Create and upload videos…so post a video to Youtube of yourself giving instructions to the sub…post updates of news and events
  • Send video messages out to the community…like a voice message alert system

What else? You can call Jott and convert a voice message to text. For example, call in and Jott to email, blogs, twitter, etc. Another option is to translate languages…if you can go from voice to text, and you can go from text to translation, then you can go from voice to translation.

Gcast is a free service that allows users to call in their podcasts…basically sharing voicemails online with anyone. Of course you can subscribe to the updates via an RSS reader or podcast aggregator. Another choice is to call the teacher’s Gcast account to leave an answer to a question…sweet.

If you want to get some information use PollEverywhere. Participants can text their responses in and we can watch the responses in real time. The graph is extremely interactive…kind of makes some of the response systems used in schools now obsolete…well, unnecessary. PollEverywhere lets you export responses into Excel…nice. You can also text in messages and they drop right into the screen…right now. Very sweet for collaboration…everyone can put in their two cents. This is probably one of the best applications I’ve seen so far this week.

Where can we go from here. Hall suggests that teachers can find relevant, important uses for cellphones and has challenged everyone to be ready to try out new applications and strategies for using these interactive peices of hardware.

Last Session! Hall Davidson

This post is being cross-posted on the MACUL Conference blog…Whew! What a day and what a conference. The last session is about to begin… Hall Davidson is presenting on Thinking Big as the World Gets Small. As i’m sitting here everyone is looking around for the boxes…you know, the ones you put your nametag in to win fun and fabulous prizes. I’m pretty sure I’m going to win something good this time…

Hooray for Berrien Springs Middle School teachers (and the RBS) being mentioned by Hall in his words of thanks…

There is geographic shrinking…the world is closer than it once was. There is also a temporal shrinking…

Hall has had the pleasure of connecting with lots of educators…sharing connections and experiences.

We have all these tools…but as educators we are unstoppable and we find a way.

Kids are already in virtual communities…Club Penguin, for example. The distance between imagination and reality is shrinking.

How do we teach innovation? Start with what they have in their pockets…iPods and cell phones. iPods are being used to assist bilingual students learn English…there are a lot of other examples as well. Harvard, Stanford, and MIT all have course curriculum downloadable from iTunes.

(I only have 20 minutes of battery left…oh boy…)

What if Anne Frank had had a blog? Students have stories to tell!..and you can empower your kids to do it!

That’s all the juice I have…too bad I couldn’t say more, but I suspect there will be other posts on this session. I had a great time here in Grand Rapids and am looking forward to actually reading some of the posts here!

MACUL Keynote…Mary Cullinane

This post is being cross-posted on the MACUL Conference blog…

I’m sure someone’s post, maybe Steve‘s, gives a little background about our opening speaker, so I won’t go into the details. One thing I will mention before the action starts is that these seats are sweet! They’re soft and have a springy back…it’s going to be hard not to want to sit in here all day! Plus…and here’s a conference tip…I’m sitting in the row that in the across-room aisle, which means that I can stretch out my legs.

Rather than summarizing her presentation, here are a few of her nuggets of wisdom.

At the end of the day, all we really want is more of our own ideas.

It’s difficult to be open to the ideas of others…because, more or less, we’re pretty pleased with how we think and what we know. I think this is particularly true with educators…we think we have the necessary knowledge and expertise and it’s difficult to let go of the power.

What would be different at your school if your principal was called the “Chief Learner?”

Since I do a lot of professional development I witness a lot of strange occurances. Often as I stand in front of the teachers of the building I wonder where the principal is. Aren’t they part of the learning community? A little better are the principals who are indeed participating, but let me know that they’re behind with “this technology thing.” Where have they been? As the Instructional Leader of the building is there not the expectation that they should be held to high standards?

Be comfortable not knowing.

I just did a Google search on “new things” and got 98.5 million hits. Live Search (that’s from Microsoft) returned 588 million hits. How can anyone keep up with that? The answer is that you don’t have to…you shouldn’t try…you’ll be doomed for failure.

Lastly, and it wasn’t her last point, here are some questions that Mary encouraged us as educators to ask…

What if…We understood our customers…

We were guaranteed not to fail…

We knew exactly what we wanted a learning environment to look like…

We had resources, commitment, will, and courage…

How would you answer this? What are your visions…and should they be different even though we know we may never achieve them? (I thinking especially of resources.) Anyone want to leave a comment?

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