If a teacher’s goal is to create lessons reflective of student-centered learning, excluding mobile technology in the classroom is denying students the opportunity to demonstrate understanding on a platform they are proficient in. Students’ lives are surrounded by and often directed by technology. Whether a teacher likes it or not, the modern learner is most likely more comfortable writing a text message than putting pencil to paper. Mobile devices allow students to create and learn on a platform they are comfortable with. Asking students to demonstrate proficiency on a platform they are uncomfortable with is a double dose of testing. If a student has to learn using a method he or she does not understand, the learning progress cannot be accurately measured. Teachers should be prepared to allow or require students to use mobile devices to achieve learning objectives, because it demonstrates a teacher’s understanding of how current students learn and connect to new content.
I currently teach in a school where all of my 5th grade students bring their own laptop to school. Because we are lucky to have access to this technology, it is advantageous for the classroom to take advantage of this learning tool.
Guiding Principles for Mobiles Devices in Education:
- If a mobile app can achieve learning objectives as well as or better than other learning methods, mobile learning should be implemented.
- Mobile learning apps should create a direct pathway to learning and not cause additional distractions
- A mobile app should be viewed as one of many useful tools in a teacher’s resources
- A mobile app should not take the place of teacher support, interaction, and facilitation
Mobile Learning Examples:
There is a lot of mobile technology available, and it isn’t always easy to filter through the options and decide what is best for your classroom. While the type of mobile learning I choose may change, I think consistency is a strategy that establishes mobile learning norms in my classroom. I introduce new apps into my classroom when appropriate, but there are some mobile tools we use on a regular basis. This consistency helps students establish a relationship with and user proficiency with these tools. I avoid constantly using new mobile approaches that could create confusion within the classroom.
Example 1: Camera and Editing Tools
- Our class uploads a lot of assignments to personal folders in the classroom Google Drive. Mobile apps often prevent physical “submission” of work. In order to record and save mobile-based projects, we often take pictures or screen shots of completed assignments. Photos can be uploaded into a Word Doc or another text-editing resource, which allows students to type information, data, or commentary as necessary.
Example 2: Video Learning
– I still use direct instruction as a teaching tool in my classroom when appropriate, but online videos are a great way to either introduce material or reinforce a topic that has already been discussed. For example, I may assign a video on YouTube or Khan Academy as homework prior to beginning a new lesson to introduce them to the concept or initiate students thinking about the subject. Students can watch online videos as many times as they would like, and often this prompts students to research other videos about the topic. Occasionally, a student will come into class and show us a video he or she found after watching the one I assigned.
Example 3: World Connections
- The ability to connect with people almost anywhere in the world at almost any time is an outstanding tool modern technology has given us. We have the ability to learn directly from other people around the world instead of simply reading about other cultures or communicating through much slower platforms (such as letter writing). My classroom loves to incorporate video calls to create meaningful human-to-human connections to our lessons. We used Skype and FaceTime to speak with people around the world during a lesson on world time. We interviewed other 5th grade students around the world to understand the differences between world education structures. We try and connect with students in our own classroom who are on international field trips or traveling with family. Sometimes technology can separate us when used in seclusion, but sometimes it makes unimaginable connections.
Global Digital Citizen Foundation (2016). Digital Citizenship School Project. Retrieved from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/digital-citizenship-school-program
Prensky M. (2005). Shaping Tech for the Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom