I have recently had several conversations about mobile devices in my school. Particularly, cell/smart phones. I am extremely lucky to work in a high school that has an open cell/smart phone usage policy. Students at the high school are allowed to use their phones between classes, and in open periods. They can also use them in the classroom, with the teachers permission.

This is the second year of the open policy and we started on the right foot in the beginning of the year. Teachers were given a poster that presented six levels of phone usage in the classroom. These levels go from “Secure and away” to “Open Use”. When rolling these new guidelines, we got a lot of comments from teachers that they would never change the usage level from “secure and away’. Even these teachers are now letting kids use their phones to take notes, take snapshots of powerpoint slides and/or whiteboard notes, adding events in their calendar, and recording audio notes. In some of the World Language courses, kids are asked to use their phones to call in to a Google Voice number to respond to a voice mail message. This recorded voice mail message is then used to assess the students language usage.

Great things are happening because teachers are becoming more open to using these devices.

A senior student of mine and an active member of my Personal Learning Network, @afinein shared with me an awesome site he learned about at the CSPA Conference that all the Journalism students recently attended.

Poll Everywhere

What is Poll Everywhere?

The fastest way to create stylish real-time experiences for events using mobile devices

Poll Everywhere replaces expensive proprietary audience response hardware with standard web technology. It’s the easiest way to gather live responses in any venue: conferences, presentations, classrooms, radio, tv, print — anywhere. It can help you to raise money by letting people pledge via text messaging. And because it works internationally with texting, web, or Twitter, its simplicity and flexibility are earning rave reviews.

@afinien stated –

I think it’s cool how you get to see the real time results without having to close the polling as we currently do with TurningPoint. It would engage learning in the classroom by giving anonymous feedback to the teacher about things such as how well they are doing. It would also help by giving students a chance to answer questions (warm-ups) at their own pace instead of having to move at the slow classroom speed.

 The only downfall I see in this at school,  is how bad the Verizon signal is. Students would have to use school laptops to  reply to the polls [in many cases].

Classroom Applications:

Replacement to expensive student response systems. Entrance/Exit ticket surveys.  Checks for understanding in and outside class. Using the devices that most students have. Would work with all types of phones (with text plans and cell signal).


What is Celly?

Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cellphone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed. We let you define filters based on hashtags, location, time, and user identity so you can eliminate noise and get alerted only when relevant messages occur. – @cellyme

The Celly created networks have a lot of possibilities. Extremely easy to setup and is not just a tool or in class, but users can also use this service to send themselves notes. Celly provides examples of how to use Celly @ School. One of the best feature of this service is to curate the conversation…will help some that are worried about inappropriate/silly texts. Celly also has a great web console to view and manage Cells. Which would allow students with laptops to participate the same way cell phone users do.

Classroom Applications:

Teachers can create their own closed (although open for everyone is an option) Social Network/Cells for their students to submit questions before or after class. Post homework questions. Use as a backchannel during class. Send out class announcements.

Google Voice

What is Google Voice?

Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers’ experience, and more.

Classroom Applications:

Students call Google Voice number to receive a custom voice mail message. These messages can be assignment directions/information, assessment questions, World Language dialogue assignments. These voice mail recordings can be saved as audio files and attached to e-mails with teacher feedback. Teachers can access the voice mail messages anywhere.

I am sure there are many more services out their that take advantage of the device that schools and teachers can no longer ignore. So more to come!