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Educators look at using cell phones as teaching tools

Students in Joe Wood’s science class at Somerset Middle School in Modesto, Calif., didn’t have to hide their cell phones in their backpacks; instead, they used them to take quizzes, shoot photos for class projects, and create podcasts, reports the Sacramento Bee. Wood has since been hired as an instructional technologist for the San Juan Unified School District. He is among a growing group of educators who consider cell phones an important tool in the classroom. Proponents of cell phones in the classroom say they are battling years of negativity. Historically, educators have thought phones should be banned or confiscated. Most schools have policies forbidding their use on school property. But many districts are amending policies to allow cell phones on campus, if only for instructional use. Cell phones today really are mini-computers, Wood said. They have the same amount of power that a computer had 10 years ago. Education periodicals, web sites, and blogs are filled with discussion about the use of cell phones in the classroom. The National Education Computer Conference, held in Washington, D.C., in June, included 13 sections of a workshop on the topic, Wood said. The previous year’s conference held only one such class. "The big buzz of the conference was, ‘How do you leverage cell phones for learning?’" Wood said. "Ultimately, in education, we want to know, ‘How do I get my students to learn?’"

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