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Cell Phones: 21st Century Learning Tools? (page 2)

Cell Phones: 21st Century Learning Tools?

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Updated on Apr 2, 2014

Be a Documentarian

Ever wanted to take pictures in a museum or at an event, but have been told flash photos aren't allowed? Enter, the cell phone: the handy-dandy, go-anywhere, flash-free documentation tool. Kolb says a cell phone can be a great way to document family vacations or field trips. Post the photos to a private space, such as flickr.com or flagr.com, and add them to a map to track the places you've been. That report on “What I Did Last Summer” just got a lot more interesting.

Be a Writer

Anyone with an adolescent in the house has seen text speak: “c u l8tr.” Some say this new tech language is ruining literacy. Kolb calls it “a new literacy that we're adapting too.” This adaptation can lead to all kinds of creative ways to reach kids. Kolb says she knows of one 11th grade teacher who encouraged kids to text message each other about Shakespeare as a way of studying for a unit review. They were asked to rewrite what had happened in a particular act, essentially transcribing old English to new English—a tough task considering that most text messages allow no more than 160 characters. “It really forced them to think about what they were summarizing and what was the most important part of the act or character,” Kolb says.

Besides texting about literature, teens can use their text message function to become writers themselves. Textnovel.com allows you to collaboratively (or individually) write your own novel through text messaging. It's like an any-time, any-where writing forum. Waiting in line at the DMV for your driver's license? Add another chapter to your autobiography, or another line to your poem. Your text message gets sent to the web site where your story is logged, and the composition can be set to either public or private. “It creates a different literacy, and an opportunity for students to be creative and innovative, while still participating in traditional literature by summarizing and understanding texts, and creating plots and settings,” Kolb says.

Be an Expert

Do you have a history buff on your hands? Does your child want to learn more about how to reduce carbon footprint? Web sites like textmarks.com allow teens to position themselves as experts on topics and share their knowledge. The site allows students to sign-up and create a campaign (such as “Go Green!”) to which friends and family can subscribe. Then, after researching facts, figures and informational tidbids, your child can share that newfound knowledge with his subscriber base on a regular basis.

Be a Mobile Journalist

Let's say you're visiting Grandma in Louisiana and it starts to snow for the first time in 45 years. Your teen can immediately whip out his phone and start snapping pictures, or rolling video, to become what's called a mobile, or citizen journalist. Your budding reporter can then send that documentation through her phone to a major news organization, such as CNN (ireport@cnn.com), or to your local newspaper or access television station. If entries are published or broadcast, the contributer receives credit and, in some cases, could even get licensing for the news stories that she creates. But, besides fame, documenting their world gets kids thinking critically about what is happening in their environment—an important academic skill. “Plus, if they experience something they want to remember, it's a great way to make a memory,” Kolb says.

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