The Newest Classroom Tool: Mobile Devices
Kids use and own mobile devices at increasingly early ages. The first impulse of schools was to ban the use of cell phones and similar devices, citing reasonable concerns that phone use would disrupt classes. Students and instructors are increasingly aware, however, that mobile devices and classroom desks are not mutually exclusive.
Student-Initiated Mobile Use
College students caught on to the educational uses of mobile devices long before anyone else. With a Smartphone or tablet, students can make an audio or video of instructor lectures to play back later. Phone cameras are used to take notes, share notes or record a few pages from a textbook. Students use mobile devices to email instructors, access research, and write papers. Students can also use mobile devices as ereaders, allowing them to access course material without having to carry around hefty textbooks.
Educational Apps and Mobile Devices
A U.S project called Project K-Nect shows how smartphones can enhance education and learning. Aimed at 9th grade algebra students, Project K-Nect allows teachers to send activities directly to the children’s phones that include digital simulations and real-world applications. The aim is to make abstract mathematical concepts more accessible using real-world experience, which encourages lesson retention.
An app for the iPad called Martha Speaks is a vocabulary-building game. According to a Rockman study, children aged three to seven increased their vocabulary 31 percent playing Martha Speaks. That’s an impressive improvement, made more important by the fact that children twelve and under learn faster than other age groups. When apps like Martha Speaks target young children, they reach students at their most receptive.
You can find apps for science, math, and language arts, including solar system maps, dictionaries, and glossaries. Instructors can deliver lectures through podcasts, allowing students to view the lecture on their own time. Podcasts and mobile devices also increase the reach of distance education, allowing instructors to interact with students in remote locations. Apple’s app store even includes a section devoted to special education, where teachers can download apps dealing with autism, emotional development, and simple sign language.
NO CELLPHONES ALLOWED!
Opponents of mobile devices in the classroom argue that despite these advances, cell phones and other devices can distract individual students and disrupt class. Any college professor can attest that the current generation of students has no qualms about answering cell phones in class, and kids could use phones to text each other or play games. However, the educational benefits of mobile devices outweigh these concerns.
Children are growing up in an increasingly technology-rich world, where mobile devices are seen as the norm. They type and text faster than they write, and are going to use these devices regardless of school bans. Instead of working against mobile devices, it’s time education started working with them.
Guest Author Byline: CJ is a guest blogger who is passionate about the world of education, whether it’s the latest educational technology or the newest classroom desks.