Friday, January 06, 2006

A potentially massive issue for ubergadget based m-learning

Marc Prensky posted over on his blog about how it would be cool to use cell phones to teach. He has some good ideas, but to play devil's advocate to what he says, I'm thinking - before even talking to the points - that the biggest hurdle is that the phone companies are going to bill for using all the interactivity that is being proposed. Think about it, unless you have an unlocked phone, you are tied down so many ways that you can't use half the features and those you can use are hobbled. 1. Handling "misuse." I think this needs to be regulated by the kids. Can we set up (or better elect) a committee that will have authority to set rules and discipline those who break them, such as by confiscating their phones. These rules have a lot more credibility coming from students than from administrators. If you get a good code of behavior that the kids agree to, you can have kids all sign it. This is fine and doable, but a phone is a far more personal device than a laptop. How are you going to regulate what older students have on their phones, unless the school is going to buy them? As this is being established, it would be great to have school wide assemblies or town forums where the kids get to discuss and debate the issues – what a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about civics and responsible civil behavior. Maybe get some parents involved in some way as well. This may work well with video and camera phones, but using texting, it could be very expensive. It would require some way to share the data in the end, so it would not be feasible or economical to have it based completely on the phone. But why then not just use a cheap digicam? 2. The above will work best if you have some "carrots" i.e. things kids can do with the phones that are positive and that they find fun. Perhaps you could set up a committee of kids and teachers to figure out how the phones can be used positively in the school context without "sucking the fun out". This might include. a. A competition for the best idea (with students and teachers included and all voting - via cell phone, of course!) Expensive and hard to manage - phones don't have polling software b. Occasional classes conducted ONLY in text messaging – no talking allowed! (kids without phones can share). Maybe there is a sister class in another state or country that participates. This could also happen in a second language, such as Spanish.Expensive and unless you are using an IM client, very clunky and even if you are, better done on a computer - think of the RSI c. A picture contest to take the best (funniest) picture of a student, a teacher, something representing the school, with student judges and strict guidelines. Or the most educational picture. Or the best educational use of phone cameras (such as time lapse photography of a flower opening.) Possible, but same issues as the civic responsibility idea, phones are still expensive d. A phone-in caption contest for an interesting picture the kids choose, with submissions by voice or text and then voting for the best. See above e. A poetry game - dial this number (local - you set it up) and press one to hear a rap poem, 2 to hear a beat poem, 3 to hear a Shakespeare poem, etc. Press 4 to comment on which you like and why. Who is going to create this infrastructure and what are the costs? f. A collective story or novel - each person adds something to the story. Better done in a wiki - especially with a 256 character limit. If using WAP, then again - RSI g. Doing an exercise in emergency communication – how quickly can a message be gotten to an entire class? To the whole school? What is the best way to do this? This would be a great experiment. Technorati Tags: , , ,