Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why Our Phones Matter
There have been a number of changes at our school this year which have made getting cell phones for our new staff a bit tricky. Complicating the problem is that many of the new staff thought they were waiting for the iphone 5, which has yet to make its appearance in Korea.

If you are wondering what the school's role in getting phones for teachers is, please understand that Korean is a very difficult language and Koreans are not often extraordinarily willing to try out their English skills. Getting a phone in a foreign country can be a complicated process, so the school has office staff that help the new teachers with this (and other tasks) each year.

Last  Friday was the deadline for choosing a phone. I had heard little about the situation, but I was aware that an iphone was not in the offering. (I didn't mind too much as I had my unlocked iphone from Thailand. It took my six trips to SK Telecom, but I was able to get unlimited data and the service I wanted.) On Friday, though, I heard from a colleague who was not pleased she was being forced into a Samsung product. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was far more than a phone we were talking about. This was a serious educational technology issue that had ramifications beyond the pocket and into the classroom.

Our school is an Apple campus. Every teacher has their own MacBook Pro. Every student in grades six through twelve has a MacBook that they are expected to bring to school every day. Our elementary students have a number of computers and ipads available in their classroom. We are piloting apple tvs for use with our digital projectors. Teachers can get ipads and ipad minis with their professional development money. So why no iphones, especially if we are using our own money to purchase them?

I've used my iphone many times at school, and to do far more than check my email and facebook. I have made movies of students. I have recorded audio during PD sessions. I have taken attendance. I feel like I'm just beginning to explore all the iphone can do for me in class.

It made no sense that teachers would not have iphones as an option. The iphone is not just a tool of personal communication in our community, it is an integrated part of our educational technology. It can do so much more than make phone calls and access the internet.

And so, I stuck my big nose in where it wasn't invited. I asked our Tech Director/Apple Distinguished Educator to go to bat for the teachers having iphones as an option and presto! He worked magic and hopefully early next week, our teachers will have iphones in their hands. Thank you, JF.


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