Since the early 90's text messaging has sky rocketed into one of the most prominent forms of communication in the world. Texting, due to its simplicity, is very popular; anyone with a cell phone can do it. It helps users stay communicated with many people through out the day. Due to this surge in texting, educators have also seen the gargantuan increase in the number of "texters" in the classrooms through out the United States and the rest of the world. While some educators consider texting to be a major distraction, and diminishing to vocabulary, communication skills, and writing skills, others consider texting to be as valid of a teaching tool as the overhead projector. Recent studies have shown that texting in class not only has the opposite effect of what teachers previously thought but also has a positive effect on a child's ability to write lengthier papers and has made their writing skills stronger in general.
New Uses For Texting
The new age teachers that are harnessing the vast power of text messaging are the progressive professors that see what the world of tomorrow has to offer us. By using texting as a positive tool instead of a means of distraction educators can now have students text in the answers that the students have to questions that the professors put on the projector screen. This new technology called Classroom Feedback System, or CFS, is a program that professors and other educators use to receive text messages from his or her students during the class. By having the students text in their answers and questions that they might have during the class thus creating better class discussions and allows the professors to get to a more personal level with his or her students because he or she can see how each individual student is doing in the class and where the student may need extra help. The CFS technology can be used in all sorts of classes ranging from mathematics to an array of sciences. This technology is some of the most valuable in the educational world today. This is the future of schooling; by allowing a communication system; text messaging, formally a taboo of schools in society, can now be a valuable aspect of education.
The CFS technology not only makes gathering the answers to classroom questions easier but also makes the classroom an easier place to learn as well. In a recent study by Eusebio Scornavacca, Sid Huff, and Stephen Marshall called Mobile Phones In The Classroom: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them; the authors randomly surveyed 600 students and the results where that 38% said sending a text to the professor while in class was preferable over raising his or her hand in a major lecture hall. This lessens the anxiety of blurting out the wrong answer in the middle of a lecture hall containing hundreds of people.
In; An investigation of the incorporation of Information and Communication Technology and thinking skills with Year 1 and 2 students, By: Marlene Walters and Heather Fehring, the two authors talk about how important cell phones are to student’s learning styles in today’s “digital native” schools. “The integration of ICT supports students as they learn through a process of inquiry. New perspectives and tools can enhance the quality of education, and ICT has the potential to be integrated into meaningful and purposeful activities and learning for the classroom”(Walters, Fehring; P.260). Without staying up to date with technologies ever changing ideas and inventions, our society would be lost and our future students will be lost in this digital age where technology is king.
New Age Cell Phone Uses
Text messaging in classrooms is not only limited to college lecture halls but also elementary schools. They are using text messaging and cell phones to strengthen the bond between classrooms at an international level. At Saint Mary’s City Schools in Ohio, students are using the new Samsung phones to research vocabulary words and communicate with international students when studying a particular country. By using these technologies, schools have made cell phones more of a regular tool in classrooms. “They may phone or iPod, a $30 to $40 monthly telecom fee, and an annual software subscription fee of $8 to $35 per device—have impressed district IT departments as an alternative to the nearly $1,000 cost for many laptops and the many more thousands of dollars needed to build and support a wireless network.” (Mobile Devices in The Classroom; Ron Schachter, P.32) By integrating cell phones and other new technologies into today’s classrooms, schools are cutting down the costs of buying massive amounts of bulky computers and flimsy laptops that are not only expensive but take a lot of maintenance and time to use. By cutting the costs of access to the internet, schools can invest their money in other things concerning the school, such as building up keep and purchasing programs that can help teachers find more productive ways of teaching to his or her students. Without this technology in classrooms today schools would be taught in the out of date manner that disregards technology as a valuable resource for learning in society today. Cell phones can be one of the most useful tools in a professor’s arsenal. “Qusay Mahmoud, director of the Centre for Mobile Education Research (CMER) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. ‘The average cell phone today has more computing power than many of the computers of a few years ago, and many are equipped with video recorders, cameras, and other features,’ he notes. ‘All of these could be used to improve the learning experience.’” (Dial M for Mobile; Sharon Shinn, P. 34) The future of education is in cell phones and the new technologies associated with them.
In a recent article; Txt msg n school literacy: does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children’s literacy attainment? By Beverly Plester, Clare Wood and Victoria Bell, the authors discussed recent studies that took surveys from young students in Britain. “There was no evidence that extent of text message use was associated with use of text abbreviations in the translation exercise, as the ratio of textisms to real words stayed broadly similar across groups,” (Plester, Wood, Bell; P.139) Although the study found that the students who were asked to show high levels of text messaging use had lower scores on the written part of the exam; their verbal evaluations showed higher percentage levels than that of students asked to show minimal amounts of texting and students asked to not text at all. Recently, the PEW Research Institute did a study on teens and text messaging. “Some 38% of teens were daily texters in February 2008, and that has risen to 54% of teens who use text daily in September 2009. Of the 75% of teens who own cell phones, 87% use text messaging at least occasionally.” (Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project). The amount of text messaging in recent years has gone up a substantial amount from 2008-2009.
Other Uses For Cell Phones In Schools
As more and more students treat cell phones as a way to communicate with other students instead of a tool; the need for new technologies about campus alerts is becoming more prevalent. Here on the CU campus students have a very useful technology known as the text rave alerts. These text alerts make it possible for the administration to notify students of possible class cancelations, on campus threats, or just news about the campus in general. This system is one of the most beneficial new pieces of technology that the school uses. By having this students can avoid a number of potential problems such as: students showing up for canceled classes, bomb threats, armed gunmen, or the worst of all, snow days. This can prevent such tragic events as the Virginia Tech shooting or University of Texas Austin shooting many years back. Not only is this technology keeping students informed but also keeping students safe.
Not only has texting played a major roll in the development of student’s abilities to write but it has sprung forth a new age of literature dubbed “cell phone novels.” (Dial M for Mobile, Shinn; P.32) This new age generation of novels is based off the concept of text lingo. For example, novels are written in the sense that they are a text message conversation among friends. Instead of being written in a traditional form, the books include minimal punctuation and short hand words that only the most avid of texters can understand. This new writing style originated in Japan and has become one of the most popular types of novels in the world. The chapters are usually 70-100 words similar to the way that texts are formed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_phone_novel) In the beginning the novels were written on certain programs such as Java Script or WMLD. They soon evolved from just computer formats to hard and soft cover novels that are now bought and sold both online and in a number of bookstores across the world. The novels deal with certain situations such as teenage relationships and romance and are geared toward the “digital native” generation. The popularity of the novels is based upon the idea of text messaging and are very relatable for the readers that the books are being sold to. This generation thrives on the idea of instant feedback and communicating with his or her friends at any given time of any given day and with “cell phone novels” the idea of instant feedback is now in written form. Due to the young age of the readers and the relatable properties of the books, the youth is starting to enjoy reading more and this is will segway young readers into reading longer and more advanced novels as they progress through school. This will have a positive effect of student because reading is such an important part of the learning process and the more children read the more they will be able to learn. Another positive effect to reading the “cell phone novels” is that a child’s vocabulary will be expanded because while reading one of the books a reader will have to decipher the text lingo words into real words and will benefit the reader by improving his or her vocabulary so when they go to read more advanced books they will know the longer and more difficult words because they had been exposed to the words through “cell phone novels.”
Cell phones in class should not be banned but should be welcomed with open arms and used as a teaching tool and not a means of distraction as so many teachers perceive them to be. Texting and cell phones are the future of the world of teaching and are the gateway to higher learning. By using the text alerts to notify students of class cancelations and possible on campus threats; keeping the students safe and notified about these possible situations. The CFS technology is a great way to get classrooms and lecture halls more involved with the conversations about the given topic for the day. This relieves the stress and anxiety associated with blurting out an answer in class that may or may not be wrong. Students are now more comfortable with answering questions and this furthers the class discussions and creates a better learning environment for not only students but teachers as well. Cell phones with their internet capabilities can now allow students to look up information about what ever subject they decide to want know more about. This cuts down the cost of hundreds of computers for each student and saves schools thousands of dollars each year and allows schools to use the money for other things that the school might need whether it is highering teachers. Without the use of cell phones in the classroom the world would still be bland and students would lose interest in certain subject and the system would fail.
• Dial M for Mobile, Sharon Shinn, January/ February 2009, Biz Ed P.33-38, Academic Search Premier, web
• Why Teachers Must Go Mobile, Angela Pascopella, November/ December 2009, District Administration, Professional Media Group, LLC, P.42, Academic Search Premier, web
• Text Messaging and it’s Effects on Teen’s Grammar, April 16, 2009, The University of Alabama Computers and Applied Technology Program (2009). Technology Education: A series of Case Studies, Academic Search Premier, web
• An investigation of the incorporation of Information and Communication Technology and thinking skills with Year 1 and 2 students, WALTERS & FEHRING, AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE AND LITERACY, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2009, pp. 258–272
• Seen and not heard? Text messaging and digital sociality, Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2008, P. 95-108
• Txt msg n school literacy: does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children’s literacy attainment? Beverly Plester, Clare Wood and Victoria Bell, Literacy Volume 4 Number 3 November 2008, P. 137-144
• Mobile phones in the Classroom: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them, EUSEBIO SCORNAVACCA, SID HUFF, STEPHEN MARSHALL, COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM APRIL 2009 VOL. 52 NO. 4
By: Max Gold