Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


Cell Phones in the Classroom  

A Practical Guide for Educators  


by Liz Kolb, International Society for Technology in Education, Washington, D.C. , 2011, 175 pp., $37.95 softcover

Students are walking around with incredible computing power. Their cell phones are calculators, Internet browsers, cameras, calendars and social media devices. Why then are educators not taking advantage of these powerful, accessible and engaging tools in the classroom? Most students, regardless of parent income, have a cell phone.

The purpose of Cell Phones in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Educators is to illustrate the many practical ways to use cell phones for learning activities. Author Liz Kolb is a research associate at the University of Michigan who earlier worked as a high school technology coordinator. She’s clearly an advocate for mobile learning.

The opening chapters share a few case studies that include school demographics, a description of the project, problems incurred, reactions of students and parents, helpful hints on starting the project, a list of free or inexpensive web 2.0 resources and future plans. All major academic areas are covered as well as elective offerings such as foreign language and drama.

Chapter 3 focuses on how teachers have used cell phones for administrative needs such as management and communications. Chapter 4 provides sample lesson plans and tutorials, including step-by-step directions on how to set up various Web 2.0 accounts, lesson descriptions, suggestions for use outside of the classroom and possible extensions of the lesson. I was especially drawn to the students who created personal Spanish avatars for their yearlong Spanish course, which they use to practice oral communication.

Chapter 5 provided suggestions for getting started and Chapter 6 describes Web 2.0 tools that couple with cell phones.

I appreciated the format of the book and enjoyed learning about the variety of ways cell phones are being used in the classroom. The practical advice given, the sample school policies on use of cell phones and the emphasis on cell phone etiquette make this book useful for teachers and administrators.

Reviewed by Paul A. Shaw, director, ethics division, Professional Standards Commission, Atlanta, Ga.



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