Cell Phones: 21st Century Learning Tools Essay

The following is a review of an article titled, “Cell phones: 21st Century Learning Tools? ” by Johanna Sorrentino. This article was found at www. education. com and is one of many on the topic of 21st Century Leaning. In this article, Sorrentino asks, “Is it possible to think that there could be, in between the deafening ring tones and the obsessive text messaging, some redeeming educational qualities to these devices? ” This question, which is posed in the opening paragraph, quickly draws me into the remainder of the article as I struggle with the daily excessive cell phone usage of my three sons.

As a parent, I have found that the positives of my children having their own cell phones outweigh the negatives. However, since deciding to become an educator I have become more cognizant of the fact that the cell phone can be a real nuisance when it comes to our children’s educational success. Sorrentino found one teacher (and author), Liz Kolb, who believes the answer to be yes. At first, Kolb was like most educators and believed cell phones added no value to the educational process.

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When she looked for information on incorporating cell phones with education, she came up empty. Kolb took it upon herself to explore ways cell phones could enhance the learning experience of today’s students. While Kolb still believes cell phones should not be used inside the classroom, she has found a number of ways for students, educators and parents to embrace cell phones outside of class. Kolb states that, “when student’s can connect their own culture with what’s happening in school their education becomes immediately more meaningful to them. That simple statement by Kolb may be one of the most important pieces of advice any new educator can take with them as they begin a career in teaching. As a coach, I have always tried to find ways to connect with my young players in order to make them listen attentively to what I am trying to teach them. Using their favorite team or player as examples always works better than teaching through my favorites. Teachers who take the time to work with students and learn about technology that excites them will have a much better chance to successfully make an educational connection.

Kolb outlines her findings in her book titled, Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. Even with the simplest cell phone today, students can become documentarians, writers, historians or musicians. By taking pictures with their cell phone, students can document field trips, sports seasons, family vacations or even the entire school year. These photos can be securely and privately stored on line and easily accessed to help put together documentation or report that can be presented in class. A couple of sites suggested by Kolb include www. lickr. com or www. flagr. com. Another way students can use their cell phones to document history is through the voice recorder on the phone. They can interview relatives about their past and combine the recordings with pictures to document their family history. Students can utilize websites such as www. dial2do. com to safely store their audio recordings. Text messaging on cell phones can also be a great learning tool for the 21st century. An example is told of a teacher who has students text message a summary of a particular reading to each another.

Since a single text message allows limited characters, the students are forced to accurately summarize only the most important parts of the text. For students interested in becoming writers, there are programs available that allow them to utilize their cell phones text messaging function to write novels. One such program can be found at www. textnovel. com. The cell phone is already one of the most important business tools used by small businesses and large corporations today. It only makes sense that we take advantage of the technology to help better educate our children.

Sorrento’s article does a great job of turning the simple cell phone from an annoying classroom and learning hindrance into an educational tool that will change the way we teach as we become more focused on 21st century learning. References “Cell Phones: 21st Century Learning Tools? ” Education. com | An Education & Child Development Site for Parents | Parenting & Educational Resource. Web. 21 June 2010. <http://www. education. com/magazine/article/cell_phone_learning/>.


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