Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education

Kids love their cell phones. Teacher and technology advocate Liz Kolb reasons that because students are highly motivated to interact with technology, they will find classroom content more compelling when they can develop content-based projects for their cell phones.

Interestingly enough, the learning activities in this book don’t require students to actually bring their phones into the school.

Kolb shows many ways to integrate these “toys” into the K-12 curriculum nevertheless. Cell phones are potentially tools for knowledge construction, data collection, and collaborative communication. They can serve as collection devices for photos and videos when used with free online resources like Blogger and Flickr for creating a local landmarks photoblog, for example, or for a geometry digital storybook, rock identification, or photo mapping.

Students can brainstorm from their cell phones by sending text messages to a live Wiffiti screen. While on a field trip, students can text their observations or notes to the class Wiffiti screen and discuss their experiences back in the classroom.


Using the instant messaging service Twitter, teachers can set up a homework help group or study group hotline for students to collaborate on homework. For projects involving audio media, Kolb provides lesson plans for an oral history project and a virtual science symposium, among others.


The Mobile Connection:

The Cell Phone’s

Impact on Society

(Interactive Technologies)

This is a very good book for the reader to understand new communication devices and the impacts on society. The changes and difficulties also discussed in the book.


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Cell Phone Science:

What Happens When You Call

and Why (Worlds of Wonder)

Their buzzes, beeps, bells, and tunes have disrupted countless classes, movies, and meals; public auditoriums now have signs posted prominently asking people to turn their cell phones off; cities such as Santa Fe have banned their use in automobiles. But these little connection gadgets have become ubiquitous because they are so useful many would blanch at the thought of losing their cell phone. Cell phones are useful because of the science, technology, and design that are blended to make them function.


In this work, authors Michele Sequeira and Michael Westphal help young people explore this now-commonplace, socially important gadget that connects today s youth with their friends. The underlying science and technologies, and some of the history that has influenced the development of cell phones, are discussed. Emphasis is given to building science and technology concepts through simple analogies with commonplace items and ideas.

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The Jerk with the Cell Phone:

A Survival Guide


the Rest of Us

As one of, it seems, the few people about me without a cell phone I really enjoyed this book. Written more as a ‘commentary’, and by a user and devotee of cellphones! The common irritant of so many people yelling into their phone is explained:


they can’t find their own volume control, and assume because they can’t hear, they can’t be heard! Very, very valid comments all through; I imagine too true for some!

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Money from Thin Air:

The Story of Craig McCaw,

the Visionary who Invented

the Cell Phone Industry,


His Next Billion-Dollar Idea

This book is obviously the story of Craig McCaw and how he made his fortune in the cellular phone market. The book does a good job of summarizing Craig’s life from a family tragedy that shaped his business life, to his strong belief in cellular communication and how that made him a millionaire.


The good news/bad news is that he eschews the fame and glory of a typical egomaniac like Donald Trump. It’s great from a role model standpoint but since McCaw is so protective of his privacy and is around so few people, it was difficult to write a glamorous tale of an unglamorous life. Particularly since there is no mention of McCaw ever being interviewed by the author. Therefore, you are left with the history of cellular phone development in America coupled with mention of McCaw’s unique management style.

That was enough for me as I had no knowledge of the business and it was interesting to see how a conservative man leveraged himself to great wealth. But don’t buy this book if you want stories of drugs, models or other scandals. This story is nothing more than a successful business tale and that is enough.

Cell Phone Culture: Mobile

Technology in Everyday Life

Goggin’s approach on the cell phone mobile culture gives one a wide view on the matter. The book has a really complete history review, with many interesting anecdotes. It also includes an anthropological review of how this new technology piece affects our everyday lives, transforms basic habits and even developing a dependency syndrome.

I found this book very interesting in many different levels and think it succeeds in giving an approach on a subject really new and unspoken so far.

iPhone: The Missing Manual:

Covers All Models with 3.0

Software-including the iPhone 3GS

This book covers all iPhones including the new 3GS and software 3.0. It can be bought as a hard copy or a PDF (Portable Digital Format) or as ePub (which you can put right on your iPhone or iPod Touch). If you like, you can buy both the hard copy and eBook for a discount special price from O’Reilly’s website, the publisher.
For this review, I am using the PDF version and reading it on my Mac. I also put the ePub version on my iPhone, then if I am away from home and I need to look up how to do something, I have it right there with me. Advantages to having the electronic version of this book is that it is easy to search in Acrobat. I can also enlarge the text on the screen if my eyes are tired.
I am a new iPhone user, but I am not on an AT&T monthly plan. I had been thinking of buying an iPod Touch, but knowing that the iPhone is an iPod Touch and then some, I talked my brother into selling me his 3G iPhone for the cost of him buying a new 3GS iPhone. He was happy to do that since he got the new model iPhone for “free” and I got a very cool device that is an iPod Touch and much more. It has a camera, GPS, microphone, speakers and the ability to be a cell phone.
Not having owned one before yesterday, I had very little experience with how to use it. iPhone The Missing Manual is a real boon for me. Besides learning how to use my fingers to navigate through all the iPhone areas, I am learning a wealth of other cool things I can do with the iPhone.
For the beginner, it is nice to get a description of the seven basic finger techniques for doing things–tap, drag, slide, flick, pinch, spread, double-tap and two-finger tap.
Already on day two I have used the iPhone to make calls using Skype (calling other people’s phones) and I was extremely pleased at how well it works. You have to have Wi-Fi for any internet usage on the iPhone if you aren’t on a cell phone plan. With Wi-Fi (which I have in my house) I can also get email and answer it, go to web pages, use FaceBook and Twitter and upload photos directly from the iPhone to a MobileMe web gallery. Thanks to this book, I also figured out other people can upload their photos to my web gallery rather than send them to me as email attachments which I would have to download to look at.


Another really cool feature of having an iPhone and a MobileMe account, is that you can enable a feature called “Find My iPhone” in case you lose it. If you just lose it in the house, you can make it beep loudly for a couple of minutes which should make it easy to find. If you have lost it somewhere else, you can send a message to the iPhone asking whoever finds it to return it. If the person isn’t honest and doesn’t return it, you can also find the area on a map from the GPS in the phone to locate the phone. Besides all that, you can remotely wipe the iPhone to protect all your personal data. That is such a cool feature. Anyone who uses an iPhone should definitely also have a MobileMe account just for that. MobileMe is great for a lot more though.
If you think an iPhone doesn’t have much to it–think again. This book is 418 pages. Sure, some of the information doesn’t apply to me, but there is a lot that I can use.
David Pogue is always worth it, and I definitely recommend this book.

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The Camera Phone Book:

How to Shoot Like a Pro, Print,

Store, Display, Send Images,

Make a Short Film

I would imagine that there are more camera phones than any other. Based on the photos posted on Flickr (and other photo sharing sites), there are a few of us that could use some advice on how to take better pictures using our camera phones, especially me.

The Camera Phone Book: How to Shoot Like a Pro, Print, Store, Display, Send Images, Make a Short Film by Aimee Baldridge, with photographs by Robert Clark, is a small book loaded with information on nearly every aspect of your camera phone. All of the photos in the book were taken by Robert Clark, using his camera phone, which helps to show you that you can take good pictures. Maybe not of the caliber of Clark’s, but you will have the tools.

Chapter 1: Choosing a Camera Phone
Chapter 2: Taking Pictures
Chapter 3: After the Snap
Chapter 4: The Camera Phone Community
Chapter 5: Troubleshooting

Baldridge packs a lot of information in 158 pages. As this is thin book, it is a perfect addition to your computer bag as a reference. I never thought about my camera phone, but Chapter 1 will show you that it is not a minor feature, especially if you are going to use it as your primary camera. How to frame and think about your photos is a major part of Chapter 2. Don’t just point and shoot; lighting, background, and framing play a large role in a good picture. Chapter 3 will provide you with the tools for printing and storing your photos as well as improving them. Online communities, blogs, and mobile photo sites are the leading topics of Chapter 4. Some of the sites are well known, but others are specifically geared to users of camera phones. Finally, if you have issues with your camera phone, Baldridge provides plenty of tips and hints to resolving your issues in Chapter 5. Each chapter is loaded with web links; you will probably spend a lot of time surfing the listed sites. Including the photos of Robert Clark, all taken with a camera phone, shows the reader the possibilities and reinforces the text.


I get lucky with my camera phone (and my digital camera). Using this book, I should take away some of the luck and replace it with a little skill. At least I will have a better understanding of how to take a good picture. That, for me, makes this a worthwhile book. But it also opens the door to photo editing tools and online sources for additional information as well as sites dedicated to camera phone art. Small as it is, this book covers a lot of ground and does so quite well; from choosing your camera phone to participating in online communities, this book has nearly all aspects of your camera phone covered. But if you want to take away one thing away from this book, Baldridge’s “Ten Rules of Thumb” for taking better pictures is worth the price. This is an excellent guide to your camera phone and one that will help you get more out of it.

Smart Policies for Workplace

Technology: Email, Blogs, Cell

Phones & More

Typical for a Nolo book, you get a well organized, more-than-a-layperson and less-than-a-lawyer view of the relevant issues. This is a review of the second edition of this book, published two years after the first, which includes an additional 20 pages. It starts with a general overview of why you might need such policies in the first place. The rest of the book coherently carves out the role of specific technologies in the workplace including e-mail, camera phones, and company social media sites. Chapter 7, “Company-sponsored Social Media,” was extremely relevant as my organization has just established a Facebook site. This chapter is now must reading by our Facebook committee members.

All chapters include an overview of the specific technology, and its general and unique issues. This is followed by extended discussion with numerous examples. A sample policy is always listed at the end of each chapter. In my organization’s case, most of the policies would be overkill. However, it’s far easier to remove provisions you don’t need, than to add ones you don’t know exist. All of the sample policies are included on a CD-ROM and make excellent leaping off points for developing your own documents. Policies on the CD-ROM are in rich text format (rtf).


The chapters are liberally sprinkled with “Lessons from the Real World,” examples of actual legal action relevant to a specific technology. For example, in Chapter 7 one can read about “Defamation in 140 Characters or Less” (page 144) where we are regaled with what the author claims may be “the first Twitter lawsuit.” Courtney Love was served with legal papers for calling fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir “a prostitute, drug addict, and ‘nasty lying hosebag thief.’ ” Indeed.

Copies of this book should probably go to the CEO, CIO, and head of HR. Also good for general reference collections in libraries.

This is a really tough subject area handled really well. Due to the ongoing changes in all things internetty I would expect to have to regularly buy new editions, or avail myself of the free legal updates posted at

Note: This reviewer received a free copy of the book via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. This review has also been posted at the LibraryThing site.