Cathy Brandt, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Lin Y. Muilenburg, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Why use cell phones in school?
Most students have them. Project Tomorrow (2009)
estimates that 78% of high school students have cell
Students are always connected via their cell phones
and enjoy using this familiar technology (Kolb, 2008).
Using cell phones for academic assignments increases
student interest, motivation, and participation
(Milne, 2008; Thomson, 2009).
SMCM MAT mLearning Projects
Texting – polleverywhere.com, blogging, quizzes
voice mail (oral quizzes, foreign language practice)
Recordings (sound‐wave analysis, plays, student writing)
phone conferences (debates, Dead Psychologist Symposium)
Photos – posting photos to blog, mapping, hunts
Video – plays, news, observations
Implementation in the schools has been more diﬃcult
Cell Phone Policies and mLearning
One local school system does allow student cell phones.
Parent permission needed because students may incur
cell phone charges.
However, most area school system would not allow cell
phone projects. One would not allow any type of audio
or video recordings. Not even using a cassette recorder!
Even if cell phones are not allowed in school, it was
sometimes possible to use cell phones for homework
Internet Policies and mLearning
Most Web 2.0 sites we wanted to use for mLearning
projects were blocked by the school system.
There was a lengthy process in place to request
unblocking, and they often denied such requests.
We looked for alternative sites that were not blocked
(e.g. replacing You Tube with Teacher Tube or School
Inside track was most eﬀective: my TA knew an IT
guy in the local schools and got some sites unblocked
A>tudes toward mLearning
Some mentor teachers and administrators were
adamantly against educational use of cell phones.
Elementary teachers and interns were least interested.
Many felt it would be too time‐consuming or would
require too much adult help to implement.
In spite of the challenges, this year 1/6 of the MAT
interns attempted mLearning lessons for their
technology implementation project.
Ecosystem Scavenger Hunt
Students use cell phones to take photos of
echinoderms found in their daily lives.
Students send their photos to the class Flickr account
by SMS or email.
On Flickr, students map the location at which each
photo was taken.
The class views and discusses all of the photos.
See the Flickr account with echinoderm photos.
Planned follow‐up acEviEes
A goal of this unit was to increase students’
understanding and appreciation of ecosystems.
Unfortunately the intern was transferred to a diﬀerent
school in the middle of her project.
Planned follow‐up activities included:
Research more about your favorite echinoderm
Construct a food chain
Write a short story or poetry about echinoderms
Kolb, L. (2008). Toys to tools: Connecting student cell phones to education.
Washington DC: International Society for Technology in Education.
Milne, J. (2008). What have we got to be scared of? The Times Educational
Supplement, p.20. Retrieved October 12, 2009 from LexisNexis Academic.
Project Tomorrow. (2009). Selected national ﬁndings: Speak up 2008 for
students, teachers, parents and administrators. Retrieved from:
Thomson, A. (2009). Lecturers see the beneﬁts of mobiles in classrooms. The
Times Educational Supplement, 4832,7. Retrieved October 12, 2009 from