NECC 2008, July 1, Hall Davidson on Cell Phones in Education

It’s in your pocket: teaching spectacularly with cell phones. Great speech by Hall Davidson from Discovery Education Network about using mobile phones in education, the kind of talk many teachers and administrators need to hear. The first thing Hall said was to take out and turn on our cell phones 😀

There is a large potential for cell phones in education, but current best practices are small. Mobiles have lots of functionality, including

Text messenger
Still camera
Video camera
Video player
GPS device
Music player

Are we really going to ignore a device this powerful? Can we, when it has all kinds of applications for teaching, learning, school-to-home, administration?

In general, we still take cell phones away, and school districts ban them (e.g. during school hours). However, if this is a tool for adults, we need to teach kids how to use it.

Why we will lose the debate about cell phones: Parents (device to track kids). Think e.g. about the New York debate (see one of my earlier posts).

Cellphones: trends sound a lot like the web.
Globally twice as many users of sms as email
Text message is read within 15 minutes and responded to within 60 minutes, unlike email.
16% of homes already completely wireless in the US, more so in other countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.

1st billion of cell phones sold in 20 years
2nd billion in 4 years
3rd billion in 2 years

3.3. billion active cell phones.
30+ countries already over 100% saturation..
Third world is ahead of the US in cell phone use etc.; the only ones to ban cell phones are the Taliban, and “a high school near you”

Live streaming of cell phone video

IP cameras for school security, you can access security cameras from your cell phone (Cisco).

Create and upload videos from cell (sub plans; homework, pre-post testing, etc.) to places like YouTube or TeacherTube.

Video messages (visual voicemail) instead of voice messages pushed to community;

Upload to web or download from micro SD (video, audio, pics)

Telephone part voice to text (e.g. used to document intervention), e.g. to email, blogs, twitter.

Voice to text translation, e.g. Japanese voice to English text. post voice messages to the Internet. Preso 2.0.

cell users text in their votes, instant results. Hall demonstrated this in his presentation with the audience, and this was very, very cool.

QR codes to pull info to phones.

Cutting Edge (working stuff):
Knfb Reader Mobile and kReader mobile software (for blind people)
Heart monitor, pill phone, first aid, medical records, wellness handset
Video projector cell phone.
Text google for food data

How will we move new media into education? First: look to ourselves, then people in the business.

Cable to web to mobile trend (e.g. CSPAN, TLC,, Weather Channel all went this route).

Nod to the iPhone: Jan. 2008, more than 30% of iPhone users watched videos on their phone. Other smartphone users: 14%

Takeaways from this presentation:

  • The power and immediacy of mobile phone technology, i.e. instant results, feedback….
  • Ease-of-use: Davidson demonstrated the use of many of the services he talked about DURING the presentation.
  • Difficulty (still) of integrating this type of technology in schools, at least in the U.S. There is definitely a need for a revised Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

Best presentation I saw at NECC this year, hands down…

Image Credit:

NECC logo, NECC 2008 website:


7 responses to “NECC 2008, July 1, Hall Davidson on Cell Phones in Education

  1. Pingback: Educational Technology and Life » Blog Archive » NECC 08 Highlights: Tuesday

  2. Pingback: Discovery Education | Techni-color....Technology in color

  3. Pingback: Technicolor » Star Discovery Educator Institute

  4. Pingback: Should Cell Phones Be Used In Education? Hall Davidson Thinks They Should « TiER1 Performance Solutions

  5. Pingback: “I Learn, You Learn, We Learn” Blog » Cell Phones in the classroom- to be or not to be?

  6. Pingback: NECC 2009: Cell Phones Inside and Outside of the Classroom « Ubiquitous Thoughts

  7. Recently we wrote a blog about some new cell phone gadget called a mobile telescope. Its pretty nifty and would be amazing in the classroom. Universities with the click of a few buttons could share information across the globe.

    If you care to read it its over here:

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