Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

3 Easy Ways to Capture Learning With Your Cell Phone

3 Easy Ways to Capture Learning With Your Cell Phone

By Starr Sackstein, NBCT

Student learning can sometimes get lost in moments as teachers work with individual groups or one-on-one with a single student. Although the one student or few students win, the others are often left behind.

On the other hand, think of the times that students have amazing class discussion; student-driven questions fuel the conversation and the classroom is alive, completely uninhibited by teacher thoughts and commentary. However, it seems as though the moment passes and there isn’t any lingering evidence that it happened.

You may get a similar feeling during student presentations, when you wish you could have recorded so that exemplars were present in the future, but you just didn’t think of hitting the video when it was happening.

Luckily, you can quickly and easily capture these moments for student reference with free technology on your phone. The three free tools I’ve use for capturing these moments include Periscope, Twitter and Voxer. Here’s how I used them and how you can do the same.


Periscope is a live streaming app that can be used to capture student learning in real-time while people from the outside, like parents and other teachers or even other classes, simply watch or engage in questions and comments that add to the discussion.

Once the live streaming ends, the teacher or Periscoper can download the file to the phone and later upload it to YouTube to ensure the footage isn’t lost. The YouTube link can be saved to a channel specifically organized for students. If YouTube is blocked at your school, consider Vimeo as an alternative.

Recording those seemingly uncapturable moments can be invaluable to student learning later—they can use them to study, review topics, or even include them in their digital portfolio. Couple this with the use of a class hashtag on Twitter, and you’ve got a winning combination.


Students may use Twitter for personal use but not understand the impact of using it for learning. Add it to any classroom discussion and you’ve got a backchannel for reticent students who struggle with being active in classroom discussions.

This new outlet allows students to comfortably pose questions and comments to other members of the class and experts in the field. This inevitably extends discussions beyond the class day as well.

Having a place to return to for reviewing lessons and discussions is essential to helping students retain what happened during the short time they have in class. It also gives the teacher an opportunity to review the quality of the conversation and draw on class questions in the next class that may not otherwise get heard.

If working on a particular unit, the teacher or a student can later curate the hashtagged conversation with a tool like Storify. Finally, this information can be archived on a class website.

You can also use Twitter in concert with Periscope. Simply record the process of learning, allowing students to direct what we see with their commentary. This serves as a reflective piece as well as documentation for later.

Maintaining this unedited footage allows students to capture what they may not remember. It also allows students who don’t want to be on the camera to record what’s happening of them, directing with their voice, rather than their face.

Tools like Twitter and Periscope make learning searchable and the need for excellent personal notes becomes less essential. As a matter of fact, this can be a great way to help students develop better note-taking skills because they can check what they have against what students are sharing on the hashtag. No matter how you use it in your classroom, both tools provide a valuable service to students while giving important data to the teacher.


For students that are shy about using Periscope, teachers and students can use Voxer. This walkie-talkie app allows for voice, text or short video communication that isn’t in real time. It’s easy to use, thanks to notifications, and allows the user to answer or respond at a pace that’s more convenient for him or her.

Voxer can be used to record class discussions similar to Periscope, just without the video component, and may be a solution for younger students whose faces shouldn’t be shown on social media.

With simple (and free!) tools like this, classroom learning no longer has to be a one and done process. Instead, it can be preserved and used again later as needed for both teachers and students to improve learning. Who doesn’t want that?

How can you use these tools to improve learning in your classes? Please share

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