Cell Phones as a Teaching Tool

#TT1411 students were asked to answer one question: Would you consider the integration of cell phone technologies into your teaching?  Students were to consider messages, reminders, and polls as possible implementations of cell phone technologies and were to choose from among three answers: very likely, thinking about it….maybe, or not likely at all, Students then had three technologies from which to choose as to how to answer the poll question: cell phone with text capability, web, or Twitter. I responded that I was not likely at all to use cell phone technologies in my teaching, and I chose to cast my vote on the web at http://pollev.com.

Polls, like surveys, are used to gather information. According to the website http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-polls-and-surveys, polls and surveys differ in that “a poll is small, simple and quick”. Typically, polls ask one question and offer two to three answer choices. On the other hand, surveys tend to be more reflective and open-ended. Thus, it’s easy to see the possibility of using cell phone technology as a polling device or to send text messages or reminders to students. For example, if a guest speaker has only one available date and the date is for the upcoming class, a good way to check possible attendance (and potential benefit to the class) would be to set up a cell phone poll to ask: Possibility of guest speaker. Will you be in class tomorrow?  Two answer choices would be offered: Yes or No. If the class overwhelmingly voted No, I would cancel the guest speaker’s visit. Text messaging could be used to individually respond to or clarify student questions. Further, a general announcement text or a reminder text to the entire class could alert students of a class cancellation, a room change, or an assignment deadline.

Because students would receive or respond at different times, using cell phone technologies for polls, text messages, and reminders or announcements exemplify asynchronous communication. Interestingly, as I think about why I voted as I did, it boils down to how I view cell phone technologies. While I see the possibilities and practicalities of implementing cell phone technologies in a classroom, I view cell phone technologies as a tool for synchronous communication. For me, my cell phone connects me in “real time” to those near and dear to me. Since most of my loved ones are at a median mileage of 789 miles away from me, my cell phone serves as a tool to talk to my loved ones no matter how much geographic distance is between us. Admittedly, I occasionally use my cell phone for business; however, I prefer to maintain my cell phone as a synchronous tool to talk to loved ones, rather than to use it as an asynchronous tool to text, announce, remind, or poll students.

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