On the Go: Mobile Learning
Until recently, schools banned the use of cell phones and other mobile devices by students during class hours. While some students argued that the devices could be helpful to the learning process, teachers and administrators focused instead on those students who used the devices for non-learning related tasks, such as texting their peers and trolling the Internet. Although the abuse of mobile devices by students is still a valid concern, some enterprising educators have embraced mobile technology and are increasingly incorporating it into the curriculum.
Mobile learning, or m-learning, is related to distance education and e-learning in that each method uses forms of technology to enhance the learning process. Mobile learning, however, focuses particularly on learning with mobile devices such as tablets, cell phones, and iPod Touches. Mobile devices have the advantage of being small, easily portable, and familiar to the vast majority of teachers and students alike. Their inclusion in the curriculum opens a wealth of possibilities, as students don’t need to be tethered to workstations or even a classroom as they explore concepts relevant to their learning anytime, from just about any location.
Last fall, Project Tomorrow released a report about technology and education at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC. Their research found that 64% of teachers surveyed believe that mobile devices could be beneficial for increased communication among parents, teachers, and students, as well as be used to access online textbooks at any moment. The same study also asked K-12 students to envision what going to school would be like in 2015, and many foresee classes where mobile devices are integral to the teaching and learning process.
There are numerous accounts of teachers effectively using mobile devices in their classrooms, and perhaps more schools will ease their current restrictions on use of the devices during school hours. Using devices such as iPads and smart phones can help address the need for students to acquire 21st century skills, and also help to foster increased student-directed learning. This week, I’ve selected three resources that bring mobile technology into the classroom in meaningful ways. Each of the featured resources below is from Apptivities, an organization that aims to support teachers in using mobile applications effectively to improve student learning. We’ll also be featuring lots of new lessons and resources on mobile learning each day throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so be sure to check those pages regularly.
Subjects: World History
Using iTouches or iPads, students will use images to draw conclusions about ancient civilizations. In addition, the students will add captions and speech bubbles to ancient civilization images in order to explore their background knowledge on the subject and/or to summarize information they have learned from the chapter.
Dictating Foreign Language Fluency
Subjects: Foreign Languages (also ELL)
An essential part of improving student’s fluency in a foreign language is providing practice in speaking. However, for practice to be effective, students have to receive feedback on their pronunciation skills. This apptivity is designed to give students an opportunity to document their fluency improvement.
To Kill a Mockingbird
In this To Kill a Mockingbird project idea that uses iPads, the importance of perspective is first introduced through Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother photograph and is reinforced through images of the Jim Crow era. As a final project, students are asked to personalize Atticus Finch’s famous quotation about the importance of “walking in another’s shoes.” By shadowing an acquaintance for a two-hour period, using the pedometer and GPS features to track their physical movement and voice memos and notes to create an interactive diary, students will develop their own sense of empathy and reach a deeper understanding of Harper Lee’s famous novel.