Aug 05 2010

Cell Phone Interview

Published by at 9:00 pm under Uncategorized and tagged: ,

Cell phone interview with Thomas Daccord

After two frustrating weeks of trying to get connected with a teacher who has used cell phones in the classroom, I finally spoke to Thomas Daccord, an educational technology specialist and author of Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Teachers and The Best of History Web Sites. He was a “laptop teacher” who instructed in a wireless laptop environment for seven years.  Although not currently in a classroom, he had used a cell phone for projects when he was active. (Daccord, 2010)

Tom spoke about several ways he used a cell phone for instruction.  He explained how he used to send to a 1-800 number activated by a pin, voice recordings of students’ reflections of about five to 10 minutes, when on a field trip.  When they got back to the classroom, they could play back the podcast recorded on the web to remind them of their reflections and use the recordings for projects.  He also used for projects where his students would take pictures with their cell phones and upload them to his account.  Students would then able to use the photos for learning projects.  He cited several ways a teacher could incorporate this idea into a project.  For example, if you are doing a unit on insects, have the students go out and take pictures of insects with a cell phone and upload them to the account and incorporate into the web tool for a slide show.

Tom felt that by and large, cell phones are banned in schools.  We spoke about the difficulty of changing school policy regarding the use of cell phones in the school.  Instructional Technology and Administration are very wary of using the cell phones in school because of legal issues.  The legalities of what happens when a student  does … with a cell phone in school while using it to do a school related project has yet to be determined.  You ask them to bring the phone to class; they go to the bathroom and take an inappropriate photo of another student.  Who is liable?  These liability issues have yet to be resolved; therefore changing policy has been slow.

When I asked Tom if the parents of the students he taught expressed an opinion of his cell phone use, he talked about his rapport with the parents.  Very early on in the school year when he would meet the parents face-to-face at “Meet the Teachers” night, he would explain his rationale, expectations, and active use of technology in the classroom.  He spoke of his reputation within the community, and historically, parents knew that in Mr. Daccord’s class the students were going to use a lot of technology.  The parent/teacher relationship was maintained during the year keeping them in the loop as the year progressed with email, newsletters, etc. as things were happening in the classroom.  Tom also talked about how important it is for the teacher to show parents a teacher’s sensitivity to privacy, security, and cost.  We have access and equity issues-not all students have cell phones.

Lastly, I asked and we conversed about teachers needing to become aware of the strategies to get limited permission to use cell phones in the classroom.  As teachers become aware of the educational ways a cell phone can be used, they may get permission from IT directors and administration to have limited access for the students.  Then it will become the teacher’s responsibility to monitor the use of the cell phones during class and have a plan in place to be sure that the phones are put away properly after the use in the classroom.

Distraction …Effective use … Legal implications … Classroom management

All things Tom felt needed to be considered when using the cell phones in the classroom.

It was very interesting to speak to Tom Daccord about his use of cell phone technology in the classroom.  Since he is not in the classroom currently, he does have the opportunity to reach out to teachers in his Educational Technology Workshops.  I tapped into his knowledge of Web 2.0 tools and he passed on some great tools for me to try in the classroom.  Having an expert in the field of educational technology to interview was awesome.  With reading our suggested web sites for this week’s assignments, I felt competent to ask relevant questions during my interview.  Reaching out to an expert in the field was a little intimidating at first, but Tom was knowledgeable, informative, and very gracious.  I now have the confidence to reach out to other experts.  I found out, experts are willing to take time out of their very busy schedules to guide those of us who want to advance our teaching and use of technology in the classroom.

My planned questions:
1.  Does your school have a cell phone policy and if so what are some of its highlights (if you can attach a copy or quotes, that would be great)
2.  Are your students’ parents involved with the cell phone projects and what feedback have you gotten from the parents?
3.  Have there been any challenges you have met along the way of using cell phones for learning, both technical and policy related?

Follow up question:

How do teachers get started in getting the limited use of cell phones in the classroom?


Daccord, T. (2010). Who we are? Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

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