Written by 03:10 English

Use of cellphones in class is…required?

The cellphone has gone from being an enemy of many classroom teachers to becoming, during the pandemic, a fundamental tool for delivering content and maintaining contact with students.

By Darío Cuellar / dariocuellar@udec.cl
/ Photographs kindly provided by CICAT

Today in Chile, there are 1,692 schools without adequate internet coverage, meaning that 69,035 students from 1st grade to high school do not have regular communication with their teachers. This scenario has forced teachers to diversify their strategies, in many cases incorporating the use of the messenger application WhatsApp as a way to efficiently reach both students and their families.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced different sectors of society to implement extraordinary measures to continue with activities. One of these sectors is education, which has had to implement forms of online work using connectivity, equipment, and educational strategies adapted to the complex context.

Juan Carlos Gacitúa, Director of the Interactive Center of Sciences, Arts, and Technologies (CICAT, Spanish acronym), comments, “Our university, through CICAT, has put all possible effort into accompanying teachers to incorporate technologies in the learning process, technologies that partially supplant the connectivity issues they have to deal with in their communities. As such, the [CICAT] team has focused on designing entertaining educational experiences through WhatsApp messages.”

The Double-Check Program

The Double-Check Program, created during the pandemic, combines a series of completely free initiatives, with focus given to using WhatsApp as an educational tool. This application, among other functions, can be used to download messages and contents when there is an internet connection, and this content can be revisited later even when the signal is lost. Furthermore, voice messages and low-bandwidth images and videos can be shared, so as not to use mobile data plans.

WhatsApp with Education was the first of these combined initiatives. This consisted of providing 20 hours of training on the multiple options provided by the app, all of which would allow for dynamic conversations and optimizing dialogue. Then came WhatsApp Party with different games and dynamics that can be used to strengthen emotional connection and contentment in a relaxing environment.

From my house to the moon was developed in conjunction with Dr. Ricardo Demarco, the Director of the UdeC Department of Astronomy. In 12 video segments, Dr. Demarco relates some of the aspects related to the space race that resulted in man landing on the moon 51 year ago.

The last of the initiatives included in the Double-Check program is the Connect with the Preadmissions Test: College-prep through WhatsApp, which is jointly run by UdeC and the college-prep school Cpech. Here, instructors receive WhatsApp content that allows them to reinforce preparatory knowledge for the national university admissions exam. This content includes resources, infographics, videos, and exercises that can then be shared with students.

Last modified: 2 de junio de 2023