When we talk about using cell phones in class, we’re not just talking about using cell phones in class.
The idea of mobile learning touches on just about every subject that any technology addresses: social media, digital citizenship, content-knowledge versus skill-building, Internet filtering and safety laws, teaching techniques, bring-your-own-device policies, school budgets.
At its core, the issues associated with mobile learning get to the very fundamentals of what happens in class everyday. At their best, cell phones and mobile devices seamlessly facilitate what students and teachers already do in thriving, inspiring classrooms. Students communicate and collaborate with each other and the teacher. They apply facts and information they’ve found to formulate or back up their ideas. They create projects to deepen their understanding, association with, and presentation of ideas.
Guide to Mobile Learning
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In the most ideal class settings, mobile devices disappear into the background, like markers and whiteboards, pencil and paper – not because they’re not being used, but because they’re simply tools, a means to an end. The “end” can be any number of things: to gauge student understanding of a concept, to capture notes and ideas to be used and studied later, to calculate, to communicate, to express ideas.
WHEN IT WORKS
In Ramsey Musallam’s A.P. Chemistry class at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco, cell phones are a natural extension of the way he communicates with his students.
As soon as kids walk in, Musallam sends out a text blast through Remind101, asking them a challenge question that’s related to the day’s lesson. “First person to tell me the units on K for a second order reaction gets chocolate,” he types and sends off. His students know he does this regularly, so they’re constantly anticipating the question during the day, in and out of class.
“Sure, that’s kind of cute,” he says, admitting that it can be seen as gimmicky. “But more importantly, in my mind that’s saying, ‘You’re carrying around something that I can contact you with.’ It’s a fun ways to stay motivated in our day, which can be pretty dry sometimes. It’s a chance to think about what we’re learning outside the context of state testing.”
“I want it to be as rich and as visual as possible. I want them to see things, not just know it.”
Once the class settles in and things are rolling along, the steady hum gets louder when kids are excited or working together, then quieter again when they’re working out problems on their individual little whiteboards (to be clear, these are not digital).
Musallam constantly walks around, sending out directives – “Write the answer on your table!” ““I Continue reading