Cell phones help teach math?

photo by jtbrennan

Can educators really turn those ubiquitous cell phones into educational tools?

As the year got under way, Scott realized she'd be using her school-issued smartphone -- equipped with a touch screen, digital video recorder, and instant-messaging application -- for more than just solving homework problems with a stylus. She and her classmates had gotten used to passively absorbing teachers' lectures, but the new data-driven curriculum demanded intense participation. "We'd tape up big poster boards, write out how we got the solution to a particular problem, then video ourselves talking about it with the phone." After that, students posted their videos online to aid others who might be vexed by similar problems. ("Cellphonometry" Svoboda)

Whether educators use phones or other devices, I can see advantages to this approach. My daughter already asks her friends for help with her math homework as students have done for ages. Couple the socially driven method with the fearless use of technology, and I think you have a much more efficient update to the telephone. If a student has a question, they can send out a text to the class and ideally get a response right away.

Whether the content is math, history, science... the students could create protected class wikis with videos they make. Instead of using poster boards, the students could use the white board and save their work. If they are doing it at home, they can record their sessions on the computer, or go back to the poster boards or other creative means of communicating.

At Southwest High, every student in one Project K-Nect class notched a 100% proficiency rating in algebra; students in a non-Project K-Nect class with the same teacher averaged 70% proficiency. ("Cellphonometry" Svoboda)

Those are some numbers definitely worth following up.