Saturday, 28 November 2009

What your phone can do for you in and out of class

There's a hell of a lot more you can do with your mobile phone than most people know.

The other day I was in the staffroom and another teacher wanted a dialogue recorded for her class but the tape recorder wasn't working. I told her we could do it on my phone and then I could send it to her via email and she could play it off the computer in the classroom. Now, this is a very simple thing to do, has been possible for many years, but my colleague looked at me like I'd beamed in from the future with some kind of hi-tech
gadget that teleports organic matter.

So, just in case you don't know, here is a list of things you can do with your mobile phone and some suggestions for how they can be applied in the ESL classroom.

1. Hook up your mobile phone to a TV or projector

A lot of phones nowadays come with the ability to connect to a TV and for you to show what is on the phone screen on a larger display. Here is a video to show you:

Classroom use: displaying photos for discussion, brainstorming, showing video for listening/discussion; sharing students pictures with the whole class for them to talk about

2. Sending messages/pictures from one phone to another via bluetooth

Most phones today come with bluetooth, a neat little technology that allows phones to send information/pics wirelessly from one phone to another at short distances. Since it doesn't use a phone signal, it costs nothing.

Classroom use: students can text each other information (e.g. gossip) to practice reported speech, such as John told me that he kissed Amy at the weekend, or again for students to share pics about their families/travel for discussion.

3. Share photos/updates directly from your phone to social networking sites like Facebook, my space or photo sharing sites like Picasa, Flickr etc.

Most phones now have applications that allow you to directly send the photos you take with the camera to these social networking sites. Normally you can set it up so that as soon as you have taken the picture you have the option to upload it to the site of your choice. Here is a video of this in action which also gives you help on set-up if you use a Nokia smartphone:

Classroom use: creating class groups on Facebook etc and then getting them to share their photos and experiences at weekends through the sites. Can really help create a sense of community with the class.

4. Record reasonably quality video

Most people know that phones can both take photos and record video. Some of them can take very high quality indeed, good enough to display on a large TV or computer screen without serious reduction in quality.

Classroom use: Recording groups discussions/presentations for later playback to analyse performance or provide corrective feedback. Pronunciation work - either you or the students can video each other saying words and then watch it to see if they mouth was in the right position.

Here are just a few suggestions of how some of the features on mobile phones can be used in class. There are many more and I will post on these in the weeks ?

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