By Sarah Jackson
David Gagnon is talking to a group of educators about how to use mobile devices for learning. In his work as an instructional designer with the University of Wisconsin’s ENGAGE program, Gagnon has given this workshop many times. But these days, he says, things are starting to change.
“How many of you are currently using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch?” Gagnon asks the teachers, who are participating in a webinar through ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education.
Other posts in this series include: Amidst a Mobile Revolution in Schools, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work? and In the Digital Age, Welcoming Cell Phones in the Class.
What happens next demonstrates how the availability of communications technology has grown exponentially in recent years: 89 percent of this group owns a mobile device, and they want to know how to use it in their classrooms.
“Two years ago, when we would do a workshop with 20 people, we would have to bring 10 devices. Now,” Gagnon says, “the 10 devices sit in the front of the room, and everyone pulls out their own. It’s just amazing.”
As schools’ acceptance of mobile tools such as smartphones and tablets becomes more widespread, educators are struggling with how to incorporate them into current teaching models. Experts say schools need to get beyond the technology cart—treating these tools as accessories that get wheeled in and wheeled out an hour later—and educators need guidance on how to change their teaching practices to take advantage of what mobile learning has to offer. Yet examples of what these new pedagogical models might look like are hard to come by.
Gagnon and his team may be able to help. As the minds behind Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS), they’ve developed an open-source mobile learning platform educators can download onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to create place-based and narrative gaming activities that can be incorporated into classroom curriculum.
For example, Chris Holden, an assistant professor in the University Honors Program at the University of New Mexico, and Julie Sykes, an assistant professor of Hispanic linguistics, used ARIS to create the game “Mentira.” Designed to help Spanish-language students learn in a real-world context, players talk with real people and virtual characters while visiting the Los Continue reading