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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Cell Phones will be "pay phones": Will they change your lunchroom?



Cell phones as "pay" phones

Oh, the bar codes. The payment management. The headaches that are often caused by lunchroom payment processing issues.

Well, now the school's number one "A list enemy" may eventually become a friend to the lady (or gent) behind the lunch counter.

I think that those who continue to fight the cell phone are running into a tidal wave that will overwhelm them.

Several companies are moving furiously into turning cell phones into payment processing centers for you (and your students.)

The April 9th version of Information Week has an article: Your Phone as Financial Central where they say:

"AT&T is using Firethorn Holdings' software to enable the mobile banking app. The software sits on a mobile device and connects with Firethorn's servers, which communicate with the banks' systems. AT&T has plans for similar preloaded apps for BancorpSouth, Regions Financial, and SunTrust Banks. Verizon Wireless also is using Firethorn for a banking and payments app; it hasn't disclosed any partnerships with banks, however."
While cell phones have a long way to go, these banking services mean that within the next several years these cell phones will have A LOT of personal data on them and I for one would not want to require students to leave it in their car or their locker.

Add the capability of many new phones to allow their parents to locate them via GPS, and parents may well demand it. (See the articles about the crooks that are caught, and woman who fell off a mountain this weekend and was found.)

And with many schools considering GPS tracking of students (see the article about Maryland considering GPS tracking for truant students), save the money and use the devices in their cell phones with a service like AccuTracking. (I have reservations about this Big Brother tactic but some schools are planning to spend a lot of wasted money in my opinion.)

But look at the upside, digital recorders help every student capture thoughts (a great prereading activity - see the Duke ipod Study) and that all important test review from their teacher.

How we use the cell phone in my classroom
Digital Recordings and Photographs
I let my students make digital recordings and take photographs to pull into movie maker and make movies on educational subjects because my video camera has a bad habit of "dropping frames."

Appointments, Reminders and Lists
Or how about my students that I've taught to set up on airset, they put their lists and appointments on airset and it text messages them the day before to remind them of upcoming activities and assignments.

You snooze, they text

Yes, there are students who misuse cell phones. I know of one that has a tendency to try to hide it in his lap and text his girlfriend. Most of my forthcoming students say that if they need to call home (they are not allowed to use the phone during class) that they just go to the bathroom to phone or text.

But isn't it the behavior and the distraction that we are trying to handle? The cell phone isn't the offender, it is the misuse of the cell phone that is the problem.

When students get on a side conversation in class, it is my job to see the distraction and handle it immediately (usually I only have to give "the look" and it is handled), likewise, if I am watching my class, I will know when the student is off task. And watch them you must!

The inevitable
However, I think that cell phones are going to become a fact and that if we are wise, we will learn to use them in ways that benefit our classrooms and perhaps even one day, our lunchrooms!

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