Cell Phone Data

In closing down the cell phone poll I recently conducted, some of the results are enlightening. What I am most excited about is that I have a basis for comparison for when our students begin taking the same survey when they arrive in 5 weeks, as this one was conducted with adults as the target data group.

A couple of points that rose out of the data that I collected:

  • So what? We all have cell phones that do cool things, but are we using them differently than if we just had a mobile phone? What behaviors are changing?
  • There are so many applications that I think I need now: instant podcasting through the phone, text journalism to name a few.
  • What is the impact of all of this going to be in our schools. With more powerful phones/smaller computers, can we expect to carry on our lessons the same way we have in the past?

First Point: What can you phone do?

I also asked any survey participant first if they had a cellular phone, which when the students take the survey will kick them out to “thank you,” page if they answer in the negative.  This survey concluded with all 33 people answering that they did have cell phones.

But looking at these results there, my first thought is that nearly everyone has the ability to take pictures using their phone.  Right there, we have them.  Like Darren Kuropatwa has proved, and a lot of us have been saying for a while, if we ask students to think and learn when it is most convenient for them to do so, regardless if it fits into a 42 minute or 55 minute chunk of time, we will get some good results.  Next problem: how do we aggregate the information.  I haven’t fleshed all of that out yet, but Liz Kolb over at From Toy To Tool is doing some fantastic resource gathering and idea generating around the use of mobile phones in schools.

Second Point: How often do you text during a day?

This was more of a baseline point than the other questions.  My hypothesis here is that the data we will get for students will generate a picture much different than this.  What am I basing that on?  I’ll be honest, it’s from observation of every adolescent I have seen this summer (mostly lifeguards and summer school students), when not engaged in conversation, is glued to their phone thumbing away at it.  I think they text a lot.  I text a lot and I have nothing to say.  Again, here is a transformative piece that we can look at: can we aggregate text messages into a coherent whole that can be worked with toward a meaningful  whole?  Citizen journalism?  I don’t know yet.

Third Point: Computer or Cell phone, which do you use more?

Again, remember that I sent this survey out to mostly family, friends and my network, which consists of adults primarily over the age of 20.  As adult, we use our computers, mostly at work, much more than we do our cellular phones.  Students?  Well, that will be an interesting one.  Depending on where you go to school, your phone could be your only means of accessing the Internet during a school day.  It’s a fact that schools are a place of limited resources, and access to computers is a resource.

I wonder if we all conducted a survey like this with our students in the fall when they arrive what our data would look like.  For me, it’s a great opportunity  to get into the heads of students.  I’ll leave a few open ended questions for them to give some other feedback, much like I did with the adult survey.  The last question I asked was how you saw cell phones helping you learn.  Some of the responses were great, especially

With Internet connection, I can do research anywhere and any time

We are heading to, if we are not already there, a place where authority is always challenged unless it understands how to coordinate the efforts of those in their charge.  What will qualify people as experts will be their ability to use the power of the collaborative abilities within the room or within their grasp.  Taking cell phones and mobile data collection to a new height is one way I see that happening.

I will be sure to post the student results when we get them in  few weeks.

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3 thoughts on “Cell Phone Data

  1. This is a fascinating survey. I’m very much looking forward to comparing these results with those you get from your students.

    How would you feel about sharing the questions you asked. I’ll try to do the same thing in my little corner of the world and we can compare the results that way as well.

  2. Darren,

    I’d love to compare data! Here are the questions I used for the adult survey, with the one minor tweak I have in mind being that I would ask students how using cell phones could enhance their learning.

    1. Do you own a cell phone/mobile phone?
    2. Which of the following features does your phone have? camera, video recording, video playback, ability to access internet, sound recording, gaming, other.
    3. If there is one feature you would like to add to your phone, what would it be? (open-ended)
    4. How many text messages do you send a day? less than 10, 10-20 per day, 20-50 per day, 50 or more, other.
    5. Which do you use more often, computer or cell phone?
    6. How could you use a cell phone to enhance your curriculum? (open ended)

    Our students arrive the first week of September, and I hope to have this out to them the following week. The one difference we can expect immediately is that the students that will be taking this survey for me will be between the ages of 11-14, and I am guessing you will have your high school students take it?

    My other plan is to look at the data for myself, but then to turn it over to the students for some deeper exploration.

    Look forward to this.

  3. Great survey Patrick.

    I would also be interested to see additional questions like which feature of your phone is most important e.g. TXT, phone calls or mobile computing and how many phones do you carry. I hardily use either TXT or phone features in a month. Our students often carry more than one mobile phone because some phone companies have limited mobile coverage but better rates – so use them for different locations.

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