Cell phones are changing everyday, bigger and better improvements. I remember a time (not so long ago) when cell phones were big and bulky, now cell phones are being created the size of a credit card! I thought I would take some time to explore what features the Cell Phones of 2008/09 will hold, and how those features may be useful in learning. Below are ten new features that I think are impressive.
1) Classroom projection tool (LCD display). (http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17395&ch=infotech) Cell Phones will soon (some do now) have the ability to project in high definition and project. Hence, no more need for expensive LCD projectors in school!
2) Scanners and Faxes. Scanr (http://scanr.com) gives cell phones the ability to become digital scanners and faxes...Scanr can turn a camera phone into a pdf creator.
3) Live Streaming. AT&T (http://tinyurl.com/3bsjgy) has created Video Share, where you can stream live video to and from your cell phone...hmmm this may be helpful for kids who are missing class because they are home sick or their parents decided to take a vacation during the school year!
4) GPS and Tracking. While Cell phones have had GPS chips in them since about 2002, they are just starting to be used. WayFinder (http://www.wayfinder.com) allows anyone to use voice navigation for driving, speed limit warnings on your cell, and up-to-date traffic maps right on their cell phone! No need to buy OnStar anymore!
5) E-Commerce. A lot of business is conducted through cell phones today. The amount of business conducted by mobile devices is only going to grow, for example Unwiredbuyer (http://www.unwiredbuyer.com) allows you to conduct ebay auctions entirely through a cell phone. This may be an opportunity for students to participate in more "real world" business and economic projects and learn how to use their cell phones as financial planners.
6) Starter Cell Phones. Some companies are starting to create age appropriate cell phones, such as LeapFrog's My Tic Talk (http://mytictalk.com/LeapFrog). Where the cell phones are entirely controlled by the parents (they program in numbers their children can call and permissions on when they can call). These may be nice tools to introduce younger students to cell phones and digital etiquette.
7) Assistive Cell Phones. Cell phones may be a way to help students with special needs (especially visual and auditory needs) participate better in the learning process and in society. Nuance Talks (http://www.nuance.com/talks) and Nuance Zooms (http://www.nuance.com/zooms) have created cell phone software that will convert any cell phone text into audio and magnify any cell phone screen. Additionally many cell phones will probably include closed-captioning for hearing impaired learners!
8) Education Software. I have posted about this before, but it is important to reiterate that companies are starting to create educational software specifically for cell phones. Two examples: Mobile Math (http://www.math4mobile.com) and Ready To Learn.
9) Solar Powered Cell Phones. "Green" science teachers may appreciate that companies are starting to create solar powered cell phones, thus using up less energy and not having to worry about power! What a great conservation lesson for science students. One example by a Japanese company called NTT DoCoMo (http://www.therawfeed.com/2006/12/solar-powered-cell-phone-charges-free.html). This also means less accessories that you have to cart around with your cell phone!
10) Storage Devices and Radios. The iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone) has 8GB of storage space...maybe this means that we can alleviate the need for flash drives and other external storage devices, with a cell phone you will have a built-in hard drive! Additionally, Nokia is already creating cell phones with built-in radio antennas---FM or XM radio right from the cell phone.
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Cell Phones in Learning by Liz Kolb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at cellphoneseinlearning.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cellphonesinlearning.com.