Trending: Satya Nadella’s ‘karma’ gaffe was ‘one of the best things that ever happened for Microsoft,’ says former board member who was on stage with him

texting-1I can’t count the number of times I heard teachers and professors tell us to put our phones away in class, from my freshman year high school math class all the way to upper level college courses.

How times have changed, though. The Oregon Department of Education is now actually encouraging students to use their cell phones in class, Northwest Public Radio reports.

There’s an educational reason for this. The state is partnering with a Portland-based startup called Celly to give teachers the ability to interact with students in the classroom.

celly12Celly, a recent graduate of the Portland Seed Fund, allows users to create private communication networks — it’s essentially a beefed up group text platform.

Teachers have the ability to use polls and surveys to engage students, or curate class discussions using the service. Students can also ask teachers or classmates about homework or projects. Schools across the nation, as well as a bevy of other organizations, are already using Celly.

Celly co-founder Russell Okamoto has a good write-up directed at parents who might worry about the use of phones in class, specifically in regard to privacy issues.

“Celly turns classrooms, schools, teams, neighborhoods, offices, or any organization — big or small — into their own private communication networks,” Okamoto writes. “We call these ‘cells.’ Cells let members communicate in a group using their phone (via text messaging) or the web. Communication is secure, private, and can be moderated by one or more curators.”

While I do like the idea of using devices during instruction, it will be interesting to see how schools allow students to use their smartphones during class, but also keep them away from surfing the web or texting friends. Check out the video below to see how Celly works in the classroom.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.