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Friday, 20 November 2009

ImageA former teacher turned mobile phone expert encourages teachers to use cell phones in lessons.

Norris high-fives a third-grader in Kona, Hawaii, after helping the youngster with a math problem.

As a middle and high school math teacher for 14 years in the Norman (Okla.) School District and Dallas (Texas) Independent School District, Cathleen Norris at first thought the idea of using cell phones in a classroom was absurd. “Are you kidding?” she asked. “Would I want that distraction? That would make me crazy.”

But Norris, now a Regents Professor in the department of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas and co-creator of GoKnow Learning, sees the value of cell phones now. First, more people are using smartphones over laptops in their travels, she says. And at the core of cell phones are these facts: they are small, affordable, mobile and operate with a “data plan,” which makes them perfect for educational purposes. “That is why there is an incredible opportunity for this administration to close the digital divide,” Norris says. “They [administrators] use E-rate, and E-rate covers Internet connectivity for children. Every child could leave school with exactly the same access to technology.”

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