Authors advocate introducing technology like cell phones, texting into curriculum

Monday, March 15, 2010
Majhon Phillips teaches a group of third, fourth, and fifth graders during music class at Deer Creek Christian Academy in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on March 12, 2010. Phillips recently published a book about education reform and use of technology in the classroom.

A 22-year-old Jackson woman co-authored a book about increasing the use of technology in the classroom. Weeks after it was published, she met her writing partner in person.

"We used all the tools we talk about," said Majhon Phillips, who is completing her master's degree online with the University of Illinois.

Phillips, who also teaches music at Deer Creek Christian Academy in Cape Girardeau, co-wrote the book with Jeremy Rinkel, a high school English teacher in Farina, Ill. Both are students in an online program that focuses on globalized education.

"We wouldn't be able to do this five or six years ago, but technology has evolved to allow us to do that," he said.

The authors used online tools like Skype, Elluminate and wiki pages to meet and communicate throughout the writing process.

In the book, "Classroom Remixed: Incorporating Technology in the Globalized Classroom", Phillips and Rinkel outline how to incorporate technology into curriculum. To keep up with a globalized society, they advocate for education reform that focuses on using cell phones and online tools.

"I see 110 kids a day and 91 of those kids have cell phones and they have texting," Rinkel said.

Phillips said she acknowledges the challenges to incorporating technology into the classroom. Cell phone policies are strict, students have different phone packages and teachers need to meet annual progress goals that are measured through assessment tests, she said.

"A lot of teachers do get burned out by the system and the problems within it," Phillips said.

The book outlines ways to set aside 30 minutes each day to use technology to build creativity and problem-solving -- skills that receive less attention because of the increased focus on assessment testing, she said.

Rinkel said he became a teacher three years ago after working in business for six years. He said he noticed employees were not leaving the school system with ability to think critically.

"Their minds wouldn't attack the problem they would sit back and see if the problem would solve itself," he said.

He teaches at North Central High School in Farina, which is south of Effingham, Ill. He said his students submit journal entries online and recreate literary classics with Toondoo, an online comic strip creator.

"I find that kids learn more whenever they have to apply the knowledge instead of regurgitating the knowledge," he said.

Rinkel said he is also working with his district to pilot a class using cell phones.

Phillips said they have presented their findings at conferences in Champaign, Ill. and Centralia, Ill. She said teachers are mostly unaware of the tools.

"Teachers are just yearning for something to break up the monotony," she said.

Phillips quit school at the age of 13 after attending school in Jackson and at St. Paul Lutheran School. She finished high school using homeschool programs and by taking classes at Southeast Missouri State University. She graduated from Southeast in 2008 with degrees in vocal performance and German.

Phillips also created her own tool to implement online strategies. She started a company, Globalize Our Generation, which matches students and tutors worldwide. She said mostly homeschool students use the online learning service.

She said she hopes the technology techniques in the book will alleviate stress for educators rather than add to it.

"This book is hope," she said. "We know that reform is going to take a long time."


Pertinent address:

2039 Cape La Croix Rd. Cape Girardeau, MO

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