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Class, please turn your cell phones ... on?

LAWRENCEVILLE - When Georgia Gwinnett College's first freshman classes start this fall, students will come armed with notebooks, textbooks, pens, pencils and mobile telephones.

While students traditionally silence their phones during lectures, some Georgia Gwinnett professors may be asking students to use the text messaging features on the phones during class.

The college recently announced it has joined with Rave Wireless and Sprint to become the first college in Georgia to use mobile technology as part of the academic curriculum.

The college doesn't want any students to feel obligated to buy a new cell phone because of this partnership. A phone from any service provider that has text messaging capabilities will be good enough to meet any class requirements, said Lonnie Harvel, the college's chief information officer and vice president for educational technology.

When students register for classes, they will, however, have the option to purchase a Sprint phone configured by Rave Wireless that can access a higher stream of data, Harvel said

Purchasing such a phone will require students to pay a fee each semester of about $150 to $170, but the exact prices has not been determined, Harvel said. The Sprint phone will allow students to access video streams or use Global Positioning System technology.

The phones will come with a number of minutes that students can use to make phone calls anytime, but students will have a choice to increase the number of minutes allotted for talking, Harvel said.

The college will pick the phones that will be used in the fall based on input from about 20 students and some faculty members who will use the phones this semester, Harvel said.

"Students will be able to connect directly to online class content, receive announcements for courses, and communicate via text messaging to their professor and the entire class," Harvel said in a news release. "With these community building tools in the hands of both the students and the faculty, new methods of instruction will be possible."

When students leave Georgia Gwinnett, they can take the phones - and the phone number - with them, Harvel said, but students will not be able to transfer an existing number onto one of the Sprint phones.