Nowadays, the widespread use of mobile in the classroom is far from being a reality in the educational world. In fact, it seems logical even though we have technical challenges of inclusion of mobile in the classroom such as connectivity, small screen size, availability of bandwidth for faster streaming, content security and potential distraction.
The Fruitful Instances Of Including Mobile In The Classroom:
There is no shortage of students and teachers around the world who defend their use of mobile in the classroom through positive experiences that seem to overcome any difficulty or danger. One of the most successful cases were found in the Essa Academy in UK, where each teacher has an iPad and each student an iPod Touch, which they carry with them day and night. This public school has made significant academic improvements and is now technologically considered the most advanced in the country. Although most of its students come from disadvantaged families.
Also in the US there is iSchool Initiative, a non-profit organization led by students who want to revolutionize the education system through innovative technology. It’s mission is to inspire and educate students to be eternal apprentices in the digital information age. Their website includes videos about the capabilities of devices like the iPod Touch in the classroom and the educational value of their applications.
Everything points to a mobile pedagogy that will continue to evolve given the high penetration of these devices in our society. The debate is not simple but eventually the classroom may not be excluded from the outside world. Students are now exposed to more gadgets and technology than ever and feel more motivated to learn when they use them.
For the teachers who are not accustomed of using a mobile for their own learning, the concept of putting mobile in the classroom is meant as a distraction, a danger or discomfort given its small size. To understand the value of mobile learning, the teachers must adopt this technology in their daily lives. With a little training and time to explore educational applications, the teachers will discover fascinating ways that allow mobile in the classroom.
Support For The Students:
Students with a mobile device have the opportunity to send emails or text messages to their teachers with questions they have, without having to wait for the next day. The teachers can respond in 10 minutes or book a specific time each day to answer questions from students.
Evolving The Teamwork:
Students can eliminate any geographical barrier to collaborate with the teachers and other classmates in real time, and solve any problem when the computer is not available. Group collaboration is easy through chat applications such as Twitter, a group of Facebook and Path or even free voice applications like Skype.
Also the classroom applications like Poll Everywhere and Socrative allow the teachers to create a survey to which students can respond with a text message. The results are shown immediately on a graph through the whiteboard and the teachers can check whether the students have understood the lesson.
Being A Protagonist Learner:
The most enriching learning experiences arise when the students seek response to an internal question. At the time of curiosity, the students are highly motivated to learn and remember. The mobile can satisfy the need to know with immediacy and continue exploring beyond the school curriculum. In this sense, there are applications such as Wikipanion, Wolfram Alpha and Fotopedia that give us quick access and answers to educational content.
Informal And Contextual Learning:
Mobile devices are ubiquitous and are always connected, becoming an ideal opportunity for informal learning. Besides this, learning usually starts within the context of a situation which makes it more interesting than if it comes from a textbook.
For instance, the context can be our location. Through Augmented Reality applications such as Wikitude, the students can obtain cultural information about a place or a monument. Also through Google Translator on the phone, the students are able to initiate a conversation with a foreign student who just met.
A mobile interface allows students to directly manipulate objects with their finger on the screen, which facilitates consumption and digital content creation. This advantage is especially valuable while working with younger students pursuing special education who encounter difficulty in coordinating the movement of the mouse. An application for students with speech difficulties is Proloquo2Go, a library of symbols and text-to-speech that allows them to easily communicate with others. Another application called iWriteWords allows the students to start writing at an early age.
Students generate multimedia content since the mobile allows them to easily take and edit photos and record audio and video. Through this multimedia capability, students can send and receive information on a classroom project.
A student can send photos of some insects and request help with identification. An art expert can create a photo album for students showing stroke techniques. Instead of writing some notes, a student can record an explanation and share with colleagues. Applications like Animoto and iMovie are very helpful for the Animation and Film-making enthusiastic students.
The Fun Factor:
The most popular applications are games. With mobile devices, the game is introduced as a motivator. For instance, students receive digital stickers or points through mobile for each difficulty level exceeding in algebra. The student with the most points can redeem for certain compensations. Mobile in the classroom is improving the overall school performance through challenges and gamification. In this area, teachers can create and modify educational contents to be downloaded by the students in the form of games.
The challenge is clear for the future. Teachers should seek safe and productive ways to integrate mobile devices into their agendas, where the essence is not the applications they use but the contents they want to convey.
If we choose to prohibit the use of mobile in the classroom, there is a serious risk that students are not informed to develop an appropriate fingerprint, nor have the necessary skills to navigate social networks safely.