Although I think class rooms can function without cellphones. One must recognition and embrace technology as it comes because it could potentially accelerate education in methods we can not fully see. As some of the education and learning topics at ted have discussed previously. I would like to reiterate some points. When kids are interested in something, learning happens at an exponentially increased rate.
Let me run through a few of my personal thoughts and uses that cell phones could be used for.
Although some schools/colleges have anonymous multiple choice answer things for large class room public debates
each student is given a device where they can press A, B, C, or D on it and when the teacher asks a question, they can take short polls and find out quick answers on topics.
These devices are expensive, limited, and cumbersone, and sometimes lost/forgotten.
If all the kids in a class had cellphones they could text their teachers(with their lightning fast typing skills) A, B, C, or D for general questions. The students wouldn't know what others neccesarily always said and the teacher could more quickly gauge if all the students understand it, instead of the few outgoing loud ones.
For example, Although VERY simple question, what is 24/6?
A) 3, B)4, C)5, D)6
In old class room styles, 1 or 2 students may say what the answer is, but now the teacher could see on their computer/display that 85% of kids got it right.
Take this a step further, and have free response answers
What do you guys think of ________?
Kids could respond, teacher could see on their private computer the answers and choose to show answers(on projector but names of student anonymous) The reason the teacher chooses is to prevent random name calling or inappropriate things from showing up on the screen.
A lot of students I think would like to answer but are too shy to speak out, or there is limited time to hear from all students but a teacher could quickly pick out 2-3 better ones from a read list, instead of a listened list.
Same concept applies to questions in class, a lot of students may feel insecure about asking a question.
Since cellphones would be permitted, youd have to establish some rules like (if your phone rings or makes noise you can get in trouble, or lose points, sent to principal, etc...)
It could incorporate more student participation. By requiring students to respond to at least 75% of questions in a semester. Obviously the class won't have a ton of these every class, but the few that occur.
The major downside to this are
Does this reinforce an ever growing less face to face social society by allowing students to rely and depend on texts/phones more? Instead of fixing the root problems?
What about students who don't have cell phones? texting?
I have been a long time follower of techdirt and I personally feel the lengths/depths of your articles are the perfect length for me. Where I can skim over and get the gist of what I want. If I am interested, I read the whole thing. If I still want more there is usually links/sources/etc... where I can just find out more on my own and create my own decisions and opinions with an excellent jump start and intelligent observations from Mike.
I wouldn't be opposed to an occasional long article but I don't think it should be a regular thing, but that also depends upon the definition of how long is a long article and how much does it take away from the other short articles.
Also, I love the fact that there are so many updates each day. Not everyone is super interesting for me personally but I tend to lose interest in sites if I check back semi often and have no updates. But I feel like techdirt is a heartbeat of technology news and insight.