Can You Talk The Talk? (or Cell Phones are NOT Evil!)

First off, feel free to view and download the presentation for today’s session.

Here are some great resources out on the web to harness the power and engagement potential of cell phones:

Poll Everywhere: PollEverywhere is a service that you can use during class discussion to get instant feedback from your students via text message or web polling or voting. The results are instantly updated on the website, or you can embed a poll into a PowerPoint presentation (now Keynote in iWork on the Mac as well!). A basic teacher account will allow for 32 responses for an unlimited number of questions. Questions can be either multiple choice or open-ended in nature. Students LOVE the instant and anonymous feedback that they get, and the teacher can know at a glance what the students are understanding, and what they still have questions about. If you want to try a student response system like this without the phones, Student Response Network is a non-handheld solution for a computer lab setting. Poll on student response systems. Poll on cell phone tools.

TextMarks utilizes the main form of communications for today’s students – text messaging – and allows for instant alerts and reminders for your students, or their parents for that matter. Create an account at TextMarks, and then set up different groups that you intend to communicate with – different class periods, subject areas, parents, etc. and assign them a unique keyword. Once students or parents subscribe to the group, you can send out any message or reminder needed from the TextMarks website. Reminders and messages to your students that they will actually READ! Text “ITEAM” to 41411 and join the iTEAM TextMark group!

TalkShoe brings a recording studio to your classroom with any phone and a computer with web access. TalkShoe might be the fastest, easiest way to create a recording of your lecture. Here’s a step-by-step of how to start a new podcast recording. Once you have some episodes recorded, your students can ‘sign up’ for your podcasts in many ways – traditional RSS, via iTunes, or by subscribing via feed readers or text! Wait! I have a SmartPhone! Can I do it all from there? A SmartPhone, or an App Phone like the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry – any phone that can use Apps, can handle this task directly. On my Droid, I have downloaded an app called Voice Recorder that has one simple job – to record what comes through the microphone and allow that recording to be ‘shared’ via email, text message, or some other service. In this case, I chose to email it to my Posterous blog, and in just a few steps, I am podcasting

ChaCha is basically a web search with your voice anywhere, anytime. Call or text-message a question to ChaCha, and the answer will be texted back to that phone. Very handy to resolve any question that comes up during class discussion or for research away from the computer lab or Library.

Google SMS – Ahh, Google. The good folks at Google will let you search for the information that you need the most from your phone. Text “weather 84720” to 466453 (‘GOOGLE’ on most devices) and you will get the current weather and forecast for Cedar City. Text “define asymptote”, and Google will give you the definition! Very handy and useful! Here is a more complete list of what Google SMS can answer for you.

As I present this and as time goes on, I’ll add great alternatives that are similar to the tools that I’ve detailed above, but might work differently/better/cheaper etc. Here we go:

  • GroupMe – Alternative to TextMarks, free for groups of 25 or less, built for group discussions via text messages an not so much for 1-to-many alerts.
  • Talk ShoeBeefier alternative to GabCast, and it’s free.

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