Yesterday I came across an article about the listed off ten ways to use a camera phone. As I read through this list I realized that a lot of these would be useful in education. It really got my brain turning too. The past couple of years have seen an explosion of cell phones. As I walk around campus now almost everyone has one, and more and more younger kids are getting them as well. Most schools ban them, but some are starting to see the potential. The average phone now a days has more computing power than many of the computers of 10 years ago. So… how can we harness that power in education? Let’s start with the camera phone since there are no additional fees associated with its use.

Here’s my list of 8 things you can use a camera phone for in the classroom, in no particular order.

1. Whiteboard/Blackboard Archie

Do you ever get done with a class and look at the board with regret because you have to erase everything you or your class just created? Snap a quick picture and archive that for future use. You could even post them on a class discussion board, wiki, blog, webpage or even just e-mail them to your class for review.

2. Handheld Scanner

This one I take directly from the article.

Remember those old spy movies, where the secret agents captured documents with a tiny secret mini-camera? Now we all have one. Believe it or not, photographing documents works.

I don’t recommend stealing information, but for random paper information, notes … you can snap a picture to capture the data.

3. Reminder List

Sometimes you see something that jogs your memory. Take a picture of that thing as a reminder of what you need to do.

4. Learn Student’s Names and Faces

One of the biggest struggles we have as teachers is learning the names and faces of the constant rotation of students coming through our classes. Take some time at the beginning of the year to photograph the students, or even better yet, have them take pictures of each other and e-mail to you if they have that capability.

5. Security/Liability Device

I hesitate adding this one in here, but we all know crazy things can happen in the classroom. Sometimes you may need to take a picture of something happening, or something that happened to protect yourself and your students.

6. Assignments

Depending on the subject you teach, it may be appropriate to send the students out one day to take pictures of nature, people or other things. Try to think of ways to use the phone. Just using the phone in an assignment will help students be more excited about it. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with using technology as a motivator. It works great with these digital natives.

7. Instant Blogging

This is one of my favorite options. If you are a blogger or have a class blog/website you can set up an e-mail address that you can post directly to that blog. You can give that address out to students or use it yourself.

Granted, you need an internet connected phone for this, but I had to add it in. It is so awesome to be out in the middle of nowhere posting to a blog, archiving.

8. Memories

We all know we get attached to those we teach and often we don’t want to forget them. Take some pictures throughout the year and print them out at the end of the year for a scrapbook or collage. Five, ten, twenty years from now those pictures will bring up dear memories.

- Jeff VanDrimmelen, 06 Jun, 2007

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