The magic of mobile technology

iPadWorking with mobile technology in class takes thought and planning.Real magic happens before your very eyes if you think it out properly and stay in control. I have worked towards it over the past 2 years and have not allowed myself to go out of my depth. One thing you first notice with students and mobile devices is they think they own them and they are in charge because they have a device. That sort of nonsensical ascendancy over the teacher simply because they have a portable device has to be addressed. The other thing which needs to be addressed is their initial need to just use it for hedonistic activities and the feeling they have the divine right to do so. That said, I haven’t found it hard to upgrade my use of mobile learning in class.

1. At the beginning of the year/trial show them suitable apps they can use and download for free. I show them iPod Touch apps, iPad apps and next year I’ll be able to show
them Android apps.

2. Encourage them to show you apps they have discovered. Make them partners in learning.

3. Load iPads with recommended apps and suitable apps. Make them voice, video, cartoon, graphic, subject specific and then some you are not sure how they’ll use.Do your homework and try to get a good range of apps.

4. How will they present their work? I get them to present on the whiteboard. Sometimes they email me what they have done.

5. Use two students and one iPad to scout out the apps they like on an iPad and that they find useful for a particular task. Get them to report to the class. I let them use my iPad because they think that is special and then work really hard.

6. Let students work in pairs on an activity. Students approach devices differently and so you are exponentially growing their knowledge and capacity to use the device.

7. Set clear rules:

The devices are only for learning and classwork
The school devices are not theirs and so should not be altered or changed
They need to ask permission to use their own devices and explain what they will be doing with them.

Those three rules keep it simple and work for me. The students like to ask permission surprisingly enough. Then they like to show you what they are doing. One of my students

had her phone set up to be really productive with iWorks and she emails me her work and it’s easy for her and not too difficult for me.

8. Keep copies on your laptop of the sorts of things students produce. Students new to a task like to have an idea of what is expected. These days show and tell is de rigueur.

9. Encourage original and different uses of mobile devices. It allows students to adventure and discover.

10. Bottom line? The rule in my class is the device does not go anywhere outside of class without my permission and unless I can easily pop out to see what they are doing.

The device is locked in my filing cabinet if they need to pop out to the toilet (rare) or somewhere else for some reason. They appreciate it now and often ask me to look after their phone/iPad if they have to do something outside of class. This is not often. The device is locked in my filing cabinet if they do not use it for the right purpose and they are given books/pens and paper if necessary. That is explained clearly before we embark on anything with mobile technology and it is easy for me to explain. My laptop is on the whiteboard and they can see what I am doing on it. My phone is locked in the filing cabinet so they know the rules apply to me. Transparency, appropriate apps and mind on the job are all that matter .

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2 Responses

  1. Cathy- this is a grand post and is filled with practical steps. I like your attitude that teachers may be learners.
    I wonder how many teachers in your school apply the same. It shall be nice to compare notes. Are all teachers in accordance with your findings? I feel you do most of the effort on a personal level because you care. If other teachers don’t do the same the students shall notice the gaps among them.
    Again, a lovely post to read

    • Different teachers are currently doing different things because technology means a lot of approaches to choose from. I mentioned in a post before we are in an exploratory phase. I do a lot because we have to move on and so we have to experiment and try. Since our students are expected to learn in “multiple modes” then if different teachers do different things then that is good. Students then have different opportunities for learning. I take your point thouhg. I don’t look like your average geek and so students are often surprised at how much I know and can do. I cannot know everything though so they have to be partners in learning – we are all learning!

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