PLAYBACK: Why Educators Should Embrace Texting, Tweeting and All That Mobile Technology Has to Offer
12.17.09 | Texting, Tweeting Are GR8 Teaching Tools: Carol Tilley, a professor of library and information science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that instead of looking at texting as the equivalent of literary degradation (a point raised in a UK study covered here last week), educators should embrace texting—as well as tweeting—to engage students and to encourage their research. Her comments appear in this University of Illinois News Bureau story.
Noting that more than 70 percent of teens have a mobile phone, Tilley says the technology offers a “viable alternate means of engaging with that age group.” She offers numerous examples of classroom applications, including a look at how English teachers can use Twitter, which can be broadcast to a wider audience than texts:
“In terms of strategies for creative or critical writing, having a limited number of characters to work with opens up all sorts of cool ways to play with the medium,” she said.
For example, an English teacher could take a famous character from a novel and ask students to tweet from that character’s perspective.
“It’s a good way to get into the psychology of the character,” she said.
Teachers could also challenge students to craft micro-stories complete with a climax and a denouement in 140 characters. Tilley noted that the flash-fiction genre has a distinguished lineage: the famously laconic Ernest Hemingway once wrote a story using just six words – “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” – and is said to have called it his best work.
How Mobile Cell Phones Change Everything When We Do: UK digital media expert Ewan McIntosh wrote an interesting post about using mobile phones in the classroom for on-the-spot research, reference and interaction—and the thinking required to change classroom practices.
McIntosh builds off this post by Will Richardson, author of “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms,” in which Richardson asks: “If at some point in the fairly near future just about every high school kid is going to have a device that connects to the Internet, how much longer can we ask them to stuff it in their lockers at the beginning of the day?”
How the iPhone Could Reboot Education: “How do you educate a generation of students eternally distracted by the internet, cellphones and video games?” asks Wired’s Brian X. Chen. “Easy. You enable them by handing out free iPhones — and then integrating the gadget into your curriculum.”
Abilene Christian University in Texas has just completed year one of a pilot program, in which 1,000 freshman students received either a free iPhone or an iPod Touch. Chen writes:
Instead of standing in front of a classroom and talking for an hour, [Bill Rankin, a professor of medieval studies who helped plan the initiative], instructs his students to use their iPhones to look up relevant information on the fly. Then, the students can discuss the information they’ve found, and Rankin leads the dialogue by helping assess which sources are accurate and useful.
It’s like a mashup of a 1960s teach-in with smartphone technology from the 2000s.
Continue reading the story in Wired to learn more about Abilene’s customized iPhone applications.
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