Thursday, December 22, 2011

426,000 Cell Phones

According to Tom Foremski (2007), this is the number of cell phones Americans throw away each day.  The following link provides a television-static-like image, which zooms into to show just how many cell phones makeup the image.  I'm sure 426,000 grows when Apple comes out with a new phone--currently the iPhone 4S.  How many people will upgrade to the iPhone 5 and how many will discard their "old" phones?

Here are some other interesting cell phone facts:
Of course, 426,000 is an old number, and numbers can be inaccurate.  I am not trying to discredit my information, but the numbers are only important to illustrate my point.  My focus isn't on the environmental impact this is having on the world; instead, I want to point to this social fulcrum as a teaching tool.  It creates a "teaching point" and cell phones can engage students with mundane content taught merely to appease the standard-police (older cell phone blog post).

Why discard the cell phone from the classroom?  Why can't it be used?  Put cell phones on silent rather than putting them away.  Use cell phones to engage students with the lesson being taught.  Lastly, teach students how to use them appropriately within school.  Students have been using them inappropriately within class, but now is the time to directly teach how to utilize them effectively.  Here is a video of a teacher "getting upset" (understatement) with a student's cell phone usage within class.

After that video, one more cell phones was thrown away, which makes the count 426,001.  Who is at fault here?  The professor is mad that the student is blatantly disrespecting his lecture, and the student is obviously oblivious to appropriate cell phone etiquette.

With Digital Learning Day, February 1st, approaching, how can the cell phone be used?

Textbook companies need to embrace cell phone apps for the classroom.  Apps that can be used within class.  Dictionaries, researching, or referencing (for proper citations) apps to assist students with reliable information.  Phone companies should sponsor text services, which could allow students to send text messages to the classroom's interactive whiteboard.   This could be the catalyst needed to engage students in discussion on a regular basis.  With 426,000 cell phones thrown away daily, it is rare to find a student without a cell phone.

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