Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Teacher, One Smartphone: How I Plan to Use My Smartphone in School

Always one to leverage technology as best I can I decided that getting a smartphone would be a great way to add some new tools in my teacher's tool kit. I have had a Droid X for a couple of weeks and have been experimenting with it. Of course, the idea is to find ways to make the my life a little easier.

Those of you that visit my class blog Mr. C's Class Blog know that I like to add a lot of pictures and video from things going on in my classroom. Being able to add pictures to a post is very important because it allows me to share student work, recognize students, and make posts more interesting. Because the Droid X runs on the Android operating system which is made by Google I can easily take pictures using the native camera app and share the photos directly to Picasa where Blogger stores the pictures used on blog posts. It really makes adding pictures a breeze. Here are a couple of examples I took in my classroom.

Video is also a very important tool I use in the classroom. I record student presentations, science experiments, some assemblies and (my favorite use of video) student reflections. I use Ustream to stream video from my classroom to my blog all day and I really like the service.  I downloaded the Ustream Android application and I am really pleased with the result. As the video streams live it is also being recorded on the Ustream site and when the streaming is finished it allows me to save the recording or discard it. The app streams video using 3G (don't know if it will stream over wifi) which is great because I don't have to worry about the network when I make the video. As you can see from the short video, it seems to work best if the camera is stationary. Since I plan on these videos to be mainly student interaction I see no problem with it.

Of course the camera will take video which is stored in memory on the camera and that video can be shared through wifi to places like Youtube, but this adds a little more complexity (plus the video upload is pretty slow).

File Sharing
If you like to keep certain files handy with you and you use Dropbox on your computers then you will be happy to know there is a Dropbox Android application that is great for sharing files. You can have your students get Dropbox accounts and set up a class shared folder that will not only allow them to drag and drop any work they have for easy access from your desktop, but also from the smartphone. And you can add things from your phone into the folder as well.

I will be using this with other teachers in the building to share files really quickly. It is much easier to use than setting up a shared folder on our network and the files will be accessible at home (or on my phone!)

Note Taking
If you need to take notes or even share notes with students Evernote is a great addition. You can use it as a pretty good file sharing program like Dropbox, but you can also take notes on the program. Again, this will be a great fit for sharing notes with other teachers in the building. Please note, unless you pay for the premium service the shared notes will not be editable by the people you share the notes with.

Have an iPhone?
Good news, the iPhone has these apps available for you to use too.
Pixelpipe HD this application allows uploading to Picasa as well as a number of other picture sites. 

Please Share
Are you using your smartphone in the classroom? Do you have any suggestions or applications that I can add to my digital tool kit? Please share them in the comments.

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