CTLT Dialogues

The Blog of the Center for Teaching & Learning with Technology

Teaching and Learning Using Cell Phone Technology

Posted by ctlt on May 22, 2008

The first formal presentation for this year’s TNT Institute was “Teaching and Learning Using Cell Phone Technology,” presented by Patricia Kahn, Leslie Wilson and Jessica Brandt of Montclair State University. Kahn and her colleagues discussed how Montclair is using students’ mobile phones as teaching and learning devices. They presented on Montclair’s Campus Connect program, which takes advantage of features available for mobile phones through Rave Wireless, a provider of safety services through mobile phones. Rave offers access to resources through integration with Blackboard, including sending out course announcements and making grades available to students. The Rave system also supports various interactive methods for engaging students, from social networking to group collaboration, interactive quizzing and polling, and sharing learning materials (such as flashcards).

Patricia Kahn, the Director, Technology Training, & Integration, at Montclair’s Office of Information Technology, gave a detailed overview of the capability of the mobile phone system, and its integration with Blackboard. Dr. Kahn also noted that assigned course activities didn’t require the use of cell phones from Montclair, and could also be completed using desktop or laptop computers through online resources.

Dr. Kahn was accompanied by two faculty members from Montclair’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, who presented on their experiences using cell phone and associated technology for enhancing student engagement with course work. Leslie Wilson discussed the use of the phones as “clickers,” to provide responses during class, or for conducting polls (usually outside of class), or to provide portable access to resources on the Web. Results of polls could be reviewed in class during the next meeting, as bar graphs or pie charts; reviewing poll results often sparked conversations about course topics, which continued inside and outside class. Dr. Wilson noted that students found these activities provided an engaging learning environment, an environment that made learning fun.

Jessica Brandt discussed how she’s used cell phones for polls and for fieldwork activities while teaching German language courses. She pointed out that the phones had cameras built in to them, so that students could be assigned the task of collecting photos of people engaging in various activities corresponding to items on a vocabulary list of German verbs Ms Brandt distributed before sending her students out for the short field assignment. Part of the task was for students to match photos of people performing the actions that matched the verb forms in gender and number. Ms Brandt has also assigned a list of trivia questions on well-known German public figures and required students to use available reference resources to answer the questions by texting before the next class meeting.

Ms Brandt also discussed a semester-long project she has assigned that required students to respond to a series of questions by posting to an autobiographical blog (for themselves or for a fictional person). At the end of the semester, students were required to present this autobiographical information for the class, in German. Most students used their own computers to post to their blogs, and some created MS Powerpoint slideshows for their presentations.

According to Ms Brandt, students quickly became comfortable with the technology involved in these activities quickly, and these methods were a useful way to add to the contact hours she had with her students.

The Powerpoint presentation from our colleagues at Montclair State University is available here.

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