Monday, November 7, 2011

Mobile Learning: Teaching for Tomorrow

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday,
we rob our children of tomorrow.” John Dewey
 I have written about this quote before, and I love how it reminds me that teaching is a dynamic career.  Teaching is not something you “get good at” so you can coast through the years.  Excellent teachers are always learning and constantly adapting the tools and techniques they use with their students.  As the world changes and technology evolves, these teachers embrace these changes and bring new tools and techniques into the classroom.

As I write this post on my laptop, I am checking out new education apps on my iPad and keeping in touch with my sister through text messages on my cell phone.  I am also downloading pictures onto my desktop to share with my friends and family in my Dropbox account.  Besides being a stellar example of my multitasking, this shows how technology-saturated my life has become (and this is a typical weeknight for adults and kids in many homes.)  Today’s technology allows us access to an almost unfathomable amount of information across multiple devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Should this access be limited to the home, or is there a place for this mobile technology at school?

Navigating a touch screen is becoming second nature to kids as young as toddlers.  The preschool set is learning their ABC’s through YouTube and interactive books and flashcards.  Kids are sharing pictures, creating videos, and chatting real-time with far away friends as they play video games together. It seems like a shame not to harness the learning that can come from these types of interactions.  By bringing some of this mobile technology into the classroom, we can help the school environment more closely mimic the world outside the classroom walls.

Even if you are completely convinced that bringing mobile learning into your classroom would be great, the logistics of actually doing this can be overwhelming.  It would be great to have a class set of iPads, iPod Touches, smartphones, or tablets, but getting them is not an easy task. A discussion of ways teachers have made this happen deserves a post of its’ own later on.  Before we get into that, I want to share some neat things you can do with these kinds of devices in your classroom.  If you don’t have a class set of devices but want to dabble in mobile learning, you could make many activities work with one mobile device at a station for your students to rotate through.

I am limiting the following few examples to the iPad for simplicity’s sake. This isn’t to say that the iPad is the only or the best mobile learning tool out there; it is just a very popular device so there is a lot of discussion in the edublog world of iPad apps for the classroom.  Please comment if there are other mobile devices you would like to discuss in the future.  We want to help you succeed in bringing mobile learning to your school!

What are some FREE mobile learning tools you can use in your classroom TODAY?  Here are a few free apps I have come across recently. Many thanks to Kelly Tenkely at iLearn Technology and Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers for always keeping me in the loop with their wonderful blogs!

Demibooks Composer is a new, free app available for the iPad.  Basically, this is a tool that will allow your students to create interactive e-books for the iPad.  Very cool!  Students that enjoy being creative and teaching others with their work will have a lot of fun with this app.   Kelly Tenkely describes it best here. 

Another handy free app for education is Evernote, an app we discussed in the past for helping teachers stay organized.  It can also keep students organized, and it is a great way to archive student work and save paper.  With Evernote installed (for free) on a mobile device, students can capture audio, pictures, and their own writing.  They can keep all of this organized into folders and they can send their notes directly to the teacher for assessment and collaboration.  Evernote is also available on the Android market, and works with a PC or Mac.

This interesting free app is called Show Me.  In the spirit of resources like the Khan Academy, Show Me will allow students and teachers to create all different kinds of online tutorials with an iPad.  As a person who learns best by teaching, this is a very exciting idea for me.  This app could be very useful for allowing your students to help and tutor their peers and as a way for you to assess student learning. 

One very creative teacher even figured out how to bring the ever-popular Angry Birds to the classroom.  Her plan used the game to teach math, history, and science.  I love how this idea works across several subject areas and brings in a popular game that students are already interested in.

There are so many more free apps for the iPad that would be a great addition to the classroom.  I hope this start of a list gets you excited and thinking about how some type of mobile learning would benefit your class.  Watch our Facebook and Twitter pages all week for more helpful discussions and resources.  There are plenty more resources and ideas on the Gateway, so be sure to search there, too.

~Peggy's Corner - October 13, 2011~

1 comment:

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