Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning like every idea, has its ups and downs.  The down side is that is can be difficult and expensive if your district doesn't have a big budget to use on technology.  Grants are out there, but may be hard to get as so many teachers value mobile devices.  A lot of times, students have devices but can easily get "off task".  Can you blame them?  I love checking Facebook and Twitter myself!  Although there can be many obstacles, they can all be overcome with a smart, motivated, techie teacher in place!

So...there are some downsides, but there are upsides too!  Students can use awesome apps on their iPhones or iPods, they can download podcasts and music on their MP3 players, and they can download audio books on their E-Readers.  The good news is, they can all be used in healthy ways to promote educational learning.  

Recently I've used laptops in my classroom.  The students were working on a WebQuest where they learned about the food habits of a Spanish speaking country and World Hunger.  They also had to create a restaurant skit using Google Docs so that all students could add input at anytime, anywhere.  It was great to watch the students move their desks and form small groups while using the laptops.  Other students chose to work more independently while using the laptops.  They pulled out their headphones and listened to music (all in Spanish I am sure!) and they began to connect with each other and learn about the world.  

One thing that I would like to try in my classroom is using different poll websites where students can text their answers.  I really like Poll Everywhere because students do not need a smartphone to participate, they only need standard text messaging.  This makes it easy for all students to participate. It is quick and provides instant results.  Also, if a student doesn't have their cell phone that day, a student can easily pass their phone to a friend to use.  It is great for a teacher because they can see what their students know or don't know at that exact moment and use the results to move the direction of the class based on their students' knowledge.

I've also began to have students tweet using their smartphones.  Many students don't have a Twitter account which becomes a problem, so they tweet old school style...sticky notes.  The students that are able to use their phones, love tweeting.  The students that use sticky notes, love tweeting.  Originally, I wanted to show the tweets using the projector so students can read each others' tweets on the board.  Since, not all students have a twitter account I was met with a major challenge that I was somewhat able to overcome.  The only problem is, I overcame it without using technology. 

Plan B (if students don't have smartphones)

I foresee this being a problem in the future with the use of iphones and other smartphone devices.  Not all students will have one and those that do may not have the proper app you are trying to use.  I know a lot of parents don't feel comfortable have their child use certain apps, so I didn't want to force a student to sign up for an account.  Perhaps I can use something like Edmodo in the future, a site that is secure for students to use and has similar features to Twitter.  

Overall, I am excited to continue to use mobile devices in my classroom and it is easy to see how many benefits there are to learning with the use of mobile devices.  Don't forget to tell your students to BYOD tomorrow!

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