Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Project Uses Cell Phones as Computers in the Classroom

Educational software for cell phones, a suite of tools developed at the University of Michigan, is being used to turn smart phones into personal computers for students in two Texas classrooms.

Their Mobile Learning Environment includes programs that let students map concepts, animate their drawings, surf relevant parts of the Internet and integrate their lessons and assignments.

It also includes mini versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. It is currently licensed through Soloway's company GoKnow! to 40,000 users around the world for larger palm-sized computers. Cell phones change the game, though.

The software developers are Elliot Soloway, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Information, and the School of Education, and Cathleen Norris, a regents professor at the University of North Texas.

"This is the beginning of the future," Soloway said. "The future is mobile devices that are connected. They're going to be the new paper and pencil."

Cell phones can be powerful computers, Soloway says. They can do just about everything laptops can do for a fraction of the price. And many students are bringing them to school anyway.

Matt Cook, a fifth-grade teacher from Keller, Texas who started the pilot project, says the popularity of cell phones got him thinking about how to harness their power for teaching. About half of the students in his class had phones before the project started.

Cook was looking for an answer when he met Soloway at an education technology conference last year. He got Verizon Wireless involved to donate phone service. HTC Corp. is donating smart phones. Celio Corp. is donating screens for the phones. Microsoft is providing training.

The project equips 53 students in two fifth-grade classes at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School with a smart phone of their own to use around-the-clock for the rest of the school year. Students can't text message or make calls with them. But they can use the cameras, mp3 players, calendars, calculators and educational software. Cook handed out the phones in late January.

"The phones will be seamlessly integrated into my lessons," Cook said. "I think that right off the bat, this will add a level of student engagement. They'll be more interested in the lessons because we're talking in the students' language. Any time you can do that, you're a lot more likely to be heard."

He explained how the devices will change his lesson on physical and chemical weathering. He will take the students outside with sidewalk chalk and let them decorate the concrete. Normally, they would then go outside every day to watch the chalk fade over time. Now, students will take a photos of the sidewalk every day and use the Sketchy animation program to create a video of the fading process.

Soloway says this type of hands-on, reinforced learning is only possible when each student has his or her own device.

"People ask why every child needs a computer and why can't students just share," Soloway said. "Well, do you share pencils?"

The school district is examining several aspects of student learning with these devices. They'll determine whether listening to recordings of texts enhances at-risk students' reading comprehension. They are studying students' technological savvy before and after the project. The teachers involved will also teach responsible and appropriate use of these phones. Cook and school officials hope to expand the project next year.

For more information on Soloway, visit:

Cell-phone-based, hand-held computers for education at Keller Intermediate School District:

Michigan Engineering:
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At more than $130 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility.

Nicole Casal Moore | Newswise Science News
Further information:

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>