You’re Smart So Use That Smart Phone!


Technology is wonderful wouldn’t you agree? Well sometimes it can suck, but mostly I love it. I love teaching it, love using it, and love learning new and exciting ways to use technology in my life. So it makes sense that I use technology when I teach and I think one of my biggest tools that I use (despite my computer) would have to be my iPhone. Mobile phones have come a long way since the release of the first iPhone. Whether you’re an Apple fanboy(girl) or not, no one can deny that the iPhone was a bomb that destroyed its competition and set the bar of what a phone could and should be. Now, the gap between the iPhone and its competitors is closing rapidly which means more phones for you to purchase at more affordable prices. I’m not going to get into which phone is the best because I’ve not had the opportunity to handle many of them, but I have read about them and know that they boast many of the same features that makes the iPhone so great. I’d like to talk about those features and how you can use them in your class.

The Camera
Come on, you don’t even need a smart phone for this one. Having and using a camera on your phone us beyond convenient. I like to use my camera to take pics, record video, and then I have something to share with parents, students, and colleagues at various different meetings. It is a great way to chronicle what is happening in the class and then share it with people who care. Video works even better. Even if you’re just taking those pictures and throwing them into a quick PowerPoint, the results usually give the viewers smiles and warm fuzzies all over. So don’t be afraid to whip that mobile out to capture that a-ha moment.

If you are fortunate enough to have a smart phone, then you no doubt have put some applications on it. I mean I use Wikipanion (a Wikipedia app) all the time just to get some general information. I also like to use my Edmodo app to quickly post comments, notes, or respond to student inquiries throughout the year. I mean, if it is the weekend and a student really needs an answer (it happens) then it is nice for them and myself to know that there is a way that we can communicate back and forth. I even use my calculator app extremely often for some quick calculations (usually grade related). Of course there are other apps (I do write a monthly blog on the iPhone apps) that can really help. There are a slew of apps for the iPhone and the BlackBerry and Android Apps are being developed quickly as well. So if you have a phone, but no apps, it is time for you to go take a look. Even if you have to buy them, they are usually quite affordable and often worth the investment

How about e-mail? It goes without saying that parent communication and involvement is extremely important in a child’s academic success. Having your phone with you gives you a way to respond to e-mails in a timely manner. If you respond to an e-mail promptly, parents see this as an act of kindness and caring. It means so much for a worrying or concerned parent to hear back from a teacher in a timely manner. Even if you send it from your phone. The only caution I give you is that phone keyboards (many of them) are small and typos can occur easily. Be sure to proof read that mobile e-mail before hitting the send button. Got it compandre?

Notes/Memos/Voice Recording
Many of these here smart phones come with some sort of note program/memo/voice recording program. Use this to your advantage. I don’t know how many times I have been out and inspiration struck, and I quickly reach for my phone and type or speak into it for a minute or two. This makes the difference a lot of times and can lead to good ideas turning into good actions. This may seem trivial but you know of what I speak. Use these programs to your advantage, don’t worry looking silly, it’s not like you’re writing or speaking a thesis into the phone, just the ideas.

The News/Twitter
Can I lump these two together? You bet your RAM I can. Twitter gives me extremely up-to-date trends that are happening in education. I’m sure that Twitter can give you loads of useful information on just about any field or topic. Sometimes though there is big news that can be tied into my unit or class and for that sometimes 140 characters and a shortened URL may not be enough for me, and possibly that URL is to a news site anyway. These two give me tremendous information and being an IT teacher there are all sorts of cool things happening in the tech world. For example, did you know that they printed (from a printer) a human vein? Cool huh?

Which on to buy?
Now if you don’t have a smartphone and the market is looking over populated and frighteningly full, check out Engadget’s back to school guide: Mobile phones. It gives you a quick overview of some of the more popular phones on the market, their price, and links to full reviews. It’ll be helpful.

So, that is just a few ways, if you have a way that you use your smart phone leave it in the comments. We here at IT Babble love comments almost as much as a cold Oranjeboom.

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