The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement in K-12 schools has skyrocketed over the past five years. About 71% of school districts have a policy allowing students’ devices to be used in the classroom for learning (Software & Information, 2014). BYOD is dependent on students using whatever technology is at their fingertips at home, most often a cell phone. Despite the fact that close to 80% of teenagers own a cell phone, the equity amongst those devices and phone plans varies greatly (Madden et. al., 2013). While many articles about BYOD focus on educational apps for Smartphones, it is fundamental that teachers take equity into account when planning for BYOD. Only 37% of teenagers own a Smartphone and less have unlimited data plans (Madden et. al., 2013). Thus activities that require mobile apps or storing large amounts of data are not accessible for all students. Instead, selecting activities, which work with any phone and phone plan is a more equitable choice to reach as many students as possible through their own devices. It is essential teachers know what their students can do on their devices, thus a survey at the beginning of the school year asking about student’s phone plans and services is helpful. In general all phones can text and make phone calls. Below are three ways to connect learning with ANY phone through the following strategies text alerts, moblogging, and phone calling.
Text alerts are when a teacher or school sends a text message to an entire group of students, parents, or both. Alerts can be one-way (teacher to student), two-way-private (teacher-to-student-to-teacher) or two-way-open (teacher-to-student-to-students/teacher). Below are pedagogical strategies where text alerts can be used to enhance learning.
· Managerial: Teachers send quick announcements such as homework reminders or upcoming class activities. It is usually one-way from the teacher to the student or teacher to parent.
· Project-based: Teachers use the alert as a way for students to produce or participate in a classroom project. For example, an English teacher might ask their students to text in their original poem for an assignment along with a visual image of what inspired the poem. Or a social studies teacher might create a virtual debate where the students can text back and forth in the voice of a historical character.
· Small Group: Teachers can put students into groups based on their reading levels, mathematics levels, or academic interests and then send precise messages to those groups based on their level/interest. In addition, teachers can open up the groups (two-way texting) so that they can text back and forth with other group members to collaborate, brainstorm, or even create virtual book clubs!
· Polling: Teachers can send a multiple choice or free response poll to their students during class. The students can text an immediate response. These are helpful as quick exit tickets, share-outs, or basic feedback.
· Tutor: Teachers send one-way alerts to help with FAQs during a class activity. Teachers can also assign an older student to send out tutoring help to younger students. This can be set up as a texting tutoring line (two-way-private), where students can text in when they need help and an older student or adult volunteer could text back helpful hints or tips.
· Text Pals: Teachers pair students with students in a similar grade/classroom from another school. By using the two-way-private text alerts the students can begin to learn from each other as pen pals. The teacher will be on the two-way alert so they can monitor the conversation.
· Field Trips: Teachers use alerts to keep students focused on learning. Teachers send out a two-way alert during the field trip with an activity or poll asking the students to text back their work (such as sending in an interesting fact or image).
· Assessments: Teachers use the two-way-private alerts to send quick surveys, polls or quizzes to better understand how well each student comprehends a topic. The responses return to the teacher in their private texting file online. Now the teacher has an archive of the quick assessments that they could use to personalize learning.
· Personalizing: Teachers send out private alerts to specific groups/students to help scaffold their learning during a class assignment. For example they could send a student who has finished a class activity quickly to respond back with a summary of how they were able to solve the mathematics problem so quickly and the reasoning that they may have used.
Online tools for creating text alerts
Remind enables teachers to schedule text messages in advance (this works great for weekly homework or pre-scheduling in-class alerts). Messages can also be tweeted and attachments sent out with the messages. Great tool for one-way and two-way private alerts.
Cel.ly is the most versatile! Students can participate via cell phone or web. Student messages can be moderated before being sent out to the group. Cel.ly allows for polls, quizzes and surveys to be sent out to students. This is a wonderful tool for text alert projects, field trip activities and text pals!
Joopz is an easy way to do multiple group messaging. Teachers toggle between different classes or groups that they have set up for various alerts. Teachers can schedule messages to be sent and all messages are archived.
Pulse.to allows for texting to other countries as part of their alerts. This is a helpful feature for doing international text pals!
ClassPager will present the alert feedback from students in a graphic format as it comes into the website. For example if a teacher sent out a text asking students to vote on an issue, then students when students text back, their results will show up in a pie chart.
Some web sites allow students to create a new blog post via texting (moblogging). Moblogging is an inclusive option for students to publish digital journals. Moblogging creates opportunities for authentic real time collaboration, below are pedagogical examples of how this can enhance learning.
· Field Trip: A student can live blog from their phone about their off-campus experiences, rather than waiting until they get back to the classroom. Parents and community members can read the blog as students post live updates!
· Classroom Reflections: When students are working in groups during class, it is difficult for teachers to know how learning is occurring in each group. Thus asking students in each group to reflect (via Moblog) on their activities as they are working can be lead to quick feedback from the teacher as well as for students to review their collaboration.
· eBooks: There are online resources where students can write and epublish a piece of literary work through their phone.
Online Tools for Moblogging
Blogger is a popular blogging resource that has a setting allowing students to text directly to the blog via an email address.
Tumblr allows students to text directly to the blog with a simple email address.
TextNovel allows students to write an ebook from their phone! Community members can also download the novels directly to their phones via SMS.
One feature of every phone is making a phone call. There are numerous possibilities to connect voice to classroom learning.
· Podcasting: Students call in a live podcast on a topic of research. Podcasting directly to the Internet from a phone is easier than traditional podcasting in that one does not need to upload a file to a host. It can also be done anyplace!
· Interviews and Oral Histories: Students conduct interviews inside and outside of the classroom to capture the experiences of their peers and other community members. Capturing oral histories directly from a phone is appealing since the interview can be recorded in the actual place of the historical event (they can walk and talk!).
· Discipline Discourse: Students call to record their explanation of subject-area concepts or how they arrived at answers in a discipline of study (such as solving a mathematics answer).
· Salon/Debate: In contrast to an in-class debate where some students are nervous to speak in front of their peers, a phone conferencing tool allows for full participation that archives each person’s speaking role in the debate.
Online Tools for Phone Recording
iPadio is broadcasting a recording directly from your phone. The podcast recordings can be public or private. iPadio has speech to text transcription.
FreeConferencePro is created for large group phone conferencing. With one phone call you can set up an entire phone conference of up to 200 callers that is archived.
Talkshoe allows students to live broadcast from a phone. The broadcast can include “guest callers” that call into the broadcast, just like an authentic radio show.
Evoca allows anyone to call in recordings from a phone. Evoca has a conference-calling feature that allows many students to call in at one time for a conference.
Hipcast allows anyone to call and record a podcast that posts directly to the Internet. Recordings are archived and can be turned into a playlist and downloaded mp3 files.
Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Duggan, M. Cortesi, S., and Gasser, U. (2013). Teens and Technology 2013. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved: http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2013/PIP_TeensandTechnology2013.pdf
Software and Information Industry Association (2014). A Vision for K-20 Education: Results from the SIIA Vision K-20 Survey. Retrieved: http://siia.net/visionk20/2014_VK20.pdf