Monday, March 23, 2009

Students Can Use Text Messaging to Search the Internet, Gather Research

While students have access to the Internet at school, many do not have Internet access at home. According to a recent survey by CITA, 71% of U.S. Households have Internet access. Thus a decent percentage of U.S. children do not have access to the Internet in their own home. While 84% of 16 year old Teenagers have cell phones. But only 15% of Teenagers own a Smartphone.

Therefore if we know that the majority of secondary students have their own cell phone (or could use a parent's cell phone) and we know that most students do not have access to the Internet on their phone (or at least unlimited access), than educators should consider ways to use basic SMS (the most popular choice of communication on teenagers cell phones) in learning. A resource called DOTGO will search the Internet via SMS text messaging (no mobile Internet required). DOTGO works by allowing anyone (no need to sign up) to send a text message to 368266. In the message they can type in any domain name such as "cnn" or "cellphonesinlearning". They will then be sent a text message reply with menu options to search the site. For example you might receive a message from
CNN...reply with the correct #
1) National News
2) World News
3) Sports
4) Entertainment
5) Politics
6) Technology

You reply to the appropriate number and ---Presto! You get a text message with all the information (headlines and stories).

Learning Connections
I think DOTGO has some potential for students who need to use the Internet for homework, but do not have access at home. If the students do not have their own cell phone, they could use their parents' cell phones. Since the cell phones do not need to have mobile Internet to use DOTGO, it allows for more accessibility at little or no cost. Of course students need to be aware of their text messaging plans. In some ways I find this resource similiar to ChaCha. ChaCha allows you to text or call in a question and receive a text message response within minutes. However since you can only ask one question at a time and the answer is limited by 140 characters, DOTGO allows students to research information further and get more specific details.


erin937 said...

Interesting to see students using cell phones for school assignments. I work in an elementary school where children aren't even allowed to take their phones out of their bags, let alone use them for school work. I think it's time educators and administrators get with the times and look into more exciting ways for kids to get involved and use technology.

M4E said...

Interesting. There exists a purpose built server solution that uses a simple GSM modem and SIM card taken out of any AT&T or T-Mobile GSM phone. Inserting the SIM card into the GSM modem joins cellular networks. Thus allowing teacher controlled accounts to send SMS test questions to student phones when they are away from campus. Google "M4E SMS". Wireless Test Administration

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