Data, My Good Friend, I’ll Need to See you Soon…

So, there I was, watching this great advertisement from Nokia:

during Darren and Clarence’s presentation at BLC (third link to both of them in three days–I promise I am not link-stalking), when things began to unfold.

I needed data for this.

We are opening the school year with our Connections class, a second language arts class focused on problem-solving and writing as a thinking tool.  What we are really having difficulty with is the fact that the students may struggle with the format of the class; getting an “A” will require strong habits of mind and a focus on proving that your answer has merit.  We’ve stripped out grading for grammar and spelling, we’ve focused our assessment on process thinking, cooperative group discussion, portfolio defense, and for lack of a better word, “out of the box” thinking.  Getting the students on board immediately is imperative for any class, but for this one, which they are already viewing as “2nd English,” is crucial not only for the success of this year, but also for the success of the program.

There is a part in the video, which I hope you took the time to watch, where the narrator talks about how the 3rd screen privatized our lives and learning, but the 4th screen freed us to venture outside and do the things we love.  My gears were cranking.  I’ve admired the work Darren has done with the use of imagery in math, but what really struck me about him was his outsourcing of the legwork of the photography to his students.  Two of my favorite things right there: atypical assignments and student-created content.

What could we do with this information? Well, here was my hook: How many of your students have cellular phones?  How often do you text per day? Does your phone have a camera?  Video?  Does your phone have the ability to access the internet?  What do you use more often in the course of a normal day: cell phone or computer?  How could you use your cell phone to help you learn?

The idea would be to have the students compile data using a survey tool like surveymonkey, surveygizmo, or our in-house survey software.  Once the data is collected, a whole slew of possibilities open up:

  • Compare our ownership stats to the nation, to the world (use this graph from
  • Use the texting data to demonstrate how we communicate most and discuss reasoning behind this.  Compare this to a survey of the teaching staff.
  • What does the data comparing the computer v. cell phone usage say?
  • What ideas do students have for the use of cell phones in class?

The ability to have students create the data, analyze the data and then let it “incubate” as Ewan McIntosh stated, make this one a go for me.  Very beta right now and as I look at the questions there, they are in sore need of some higher level revision.  The power of what is in their pockets is, as I remarked to my colleagues in our notes, game-changing.  Again, as I sit here and write this, I can’t help but think of the almost Draconian rules that exist in some parts of our buildings regarding the use of mobile devices.  This idea, aside from the student inclusion in the creation of the lesson, may serve to break down some barriers for us.  One can only hope….


2 thoughts on “Data, My Good Friend, I’ll Need to See you Soon…

  1. It’ll be interesting to see how mobile phones penetrate classrooms over this next school year. There is huge potential in this tool: pictures, audio, and video instantly published to the web or digested and remixed into content that educates. We’re thinking along similar lines. I too need some incubation time. We can compare notes next year in Boston. 😉


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