Will Richardson, at Weblogg-ed, has another fascinating post on how technology is transforming learning. This one discusses the incredible potential of the cellphone, based on both its increasing processing power and ubiquitous availability.
My good friend Michael, at Socratica.com, is interested in the same thing. (Disclaimer: I’m involved with this project.) Michael is interested in making learning available world-wide, and while the rest of the technology community struggles with how to distribute broadband networks across Africa, perhaps there’s some sense in using the network that’s already there: mobile phones.
No one is saying (yet) that lessons somehow delivered via a 2″x3″ mobile phone screen are going to replace a teacher and a well-equipped classroom. But we’re still in the early stages of this, and there’s lots of room for exploration here. And as teachers, more than anyone, we especially need to be open to the potential.
Two years ago I was teaching an introductory lesson on momentum to some 9th graders in a Conceptual Physics class. “One can calculate the momentum of an object by using the formula ‘p=mass times velocity,’ where ‘p’ stands for momentum.”
“Why ‘p’?” a student asks.
“Good question,” I respond. “I have no idea. You should look that up and report back to us tomorrow.”
A few minutes pass. A student in the back of the room raises his hand.
“Mr. White, I think that the ‘p’ might stand for a Latin word related to motion.”
“Wow, Daniel, I guess that makes some sense. Newton’s Principia was written in Latin, after all. That’s really interesting. And good for you for taking Latin!”
“Oh, I’m not taking Latin, Mr. White,” a slow smile spreading on his face as he brought out his cell. “I looked it up on my iPhone!”
We need more stories like this.
P.S. It turns out that Daniel was wrong about the Latin. The truth is that no one really knows about the “p”…