Thursday, December 13, 2007

Where do we begin? How about with a "how to" book?

Darren Draper just left a comment and question on my blog about how and where do we begin demonstrating the knowledge construction capabilities of cell phones? I propose that we begin in many places (Classroom 2.0, K12 Online Conference, Edubloggers) but also with a book...actually my book (I know, a little self-promotion) that I am finishing with ISTE, our goal is to have it published before the NECC conference this coming June.

The book is tentatively called Toys To Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones To Education In and Out of the Classroom. In the book I highlight many ways (from the very simple to the more complex) that educators can take advantage of basic cell phones (not fancy iPhones, but an average cell phone that many secondary students own) for a large variety of learning opportunities. Some of the integration ideas that I have included are podcasting, virtual conferencing, photoblogging, videoblogging, mobile surveys/quizzes, game such as cell phone scavenger hunt, making mobile webpages, and mobile concept mapping. I tried to include a large number of lesson plans and "how to" tutorials. The objective of the book is not to tell teachers they have to include cell phones everyday and let students use them all the time in school, rather to ask them to consider cell phones as a possible learning tool and to give them ideas of how they could take full advantage of them. Almost all of the ideas and lessons focus on using the cell phone outside of the classroom (for homework or on field trips), so students do not actually have to bring them into the classroom (especially since so many schools have policies banning cell phones). I also include discussions on why we should include cell phones in our spectrum of classroom learning tools and some examples of adventurous teachers who are having some success with cell phones in their classrooms.

I am very excited because the reviewers for the book (school teachers) highly recommended the book. One of the reviewers even stated that they did not think they would like the book (because of the topic) and now they are actually going to try some of lessons in their classroom. That was nice to hear, since I am well aware that this is a controversial topic! I hope the book with enlighten and be useful to the 21st Century teacher. I'll write more when I have some firm dates of publication.


lolosita said...

That's so exciting, Liz! Congrats! It is a testament to your innovative research that folks are changing their thoughts on this topic and implementing some of these ideas. Please do keep us updated.

Wesley Fryer said...

Liz: I am really looking forward to reading your book as well as seeing how others respond to it. I heard Hall Davidson (in a podcast posted by Bob Sprankle) say recently that he's abandoned discussions about cell phones in schools. I found that comment VERY interesting. I'm sure you've got a good feel for how hostile many school leaders are to the idea of students using cell phones for learning. I think it is good you address ways students can use their cell phones outside of class to support their learning. I am wondering what the best means of advocacy in this area are. Starting a regional cell phone digital storytelling contest? I think the key is probably helping students create compelling media with their cell phones which gets the constructive attention of people in the community, as well as local media. I'd love to know your thoughts on this.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Hi Wes
I think there is just so much negative media around cell phones (often overblown in my opinion), that we need to get out positive examples. I really like your idea of starting some sort of cell phone digital storytelling contest (similar to the Cellflix festival but for K-12), or maybe cell phone oral history contest? I would definitely be interested in looking into starting something like that. I would be more than willing to work with you on setting something up. I also think we should also get cell phone companies involved in funding educational opportunities with cell phones. What I have found is the more teachers see what cell phones can do (such as an easy podcast or photoblog) they often have an "ah ha" moment. I think modeling is key to integration and changing the "negative" views. I also think by starting with projects outside of school, it is less threatening. If the outside projects go well, I think administrators and teachers would be more likely to consider bringing the cell phones into the classroom.

Unknown said...

Liz - I can't wait to read your book and use it in my classroom next year! My kids have been begging all week to use Wiffiti just after our one little experiment with it. I look forward to hooking them with more of your ideas. Its great that you have taken the time to include lesson plans. As a classroom teacher I can tell you that just having a lesson plan idea to get me started is invaluable.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Thanks Joe. I included Wiffiti in the book (final edits, I was allowed to tweek). I would love to include a link to your wiffiti lesson on your blog in the book (and give you some credit for your idea). Let me know if you would grant permission for that to happen (before Friday).

I hear you when it comes to the lesson plans, being a former high school teacher I tried to think practically about what I would find useful. So the "research" portions are limited and I tried to include an abundance of lesson ideas, tutorials, and resources. It has been difficult to get a "final" manuscript because every week I find new ways to use cell phones that I want to include. But I have to have the final version in for copy-editing this week, so I think I will have to just add my new finds to my blog. I look forward to hearing what you think of the book.

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