By Morgan Sims
Many of us remember the days when monochrome-screened Macintosh Classic computers were used in classrooms. We played the old school games like “Oregon Trail” and “Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego.” Times have changed and schools are responding. No longer are kids reprimanded for having gadgets in view. In fact, teachers and students are reaping the benefits of mobile technology. Here are some of the ways we are seeing a new face of technology in the learning environment.
Teachers’ Trusty Toolbox of Goods
There are several platforms, apps, and websites that are designed with mobile technology in mind. Taking care of the teacher, these resources help build lesson plans, virtually tutor students, provide file organization, and much more. The following tools are easy and helpful with educational planning in today’s world.
- Notability is an app specifically for note taking. Teachers are constant thinkers and planners. They’re always jotting ideas down on napkins and sticky notes when that light bulb goes off. Notability lets users take notes and annotate PDF files with Dropbox and Google Drive Sync. It’s a multi-functional app that keeps teachers organized and ready to seize the day.
- MOBL21 allows teachers to design lesson plans, create study guides, and even construct flashcards for students. Students can access anything their teacher makes “public” from their smartphones or PCs. Recognized and accredited by school systems nationwide, it’s a platform educators can expect to see a lot from in the coming years.
- Educreations Interactive White Board turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Teachers can create engaging and interactive tutorials by simply touching, tapping, and recording their voices to their iPad. Then, by using the ELMO system or similar device, they can present the video to their class.
Though these tools provide assistance outside of the classroom, it’s equally important that teachers use mobile technology in the classroom. Since schools are responding to the new age of tech, they’re seeing how crucial Internet service providers are with supplying quality, high-speed connections. High speed connections are vital in the classroom since teachers must quickly move from topic to topic to keep students engaged. Even a few minutes of download time can lose a child’s attention.
Schools Find Mobile Technology a Valuable Resource
While school districts and teachers used to fight against the rising trend of students carrying their cell phones and mobile devices with them at all times, some have begun to use it as a viable educational resource to enhance the learning experience. Here are a couple of examples of how mobile technology has specifically enhanced classroom experiences:
- Matt Cook’s fifth grade classroom at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Keller, Texas, has found mobile technology to be a wonderful resource for students. With the financial support of corporate sponsors, along with moral support from parents and the district school board, each student in Cook’s class carries a cell phone to document their work, collaborate on projects and to communicate with their teacher. The devices are not voice or text enabled, but Cook says they find other ways to enhance their learning. “As a teacher, I use GoManage to push out applications and files to the phones as the kids wireless sync. We also use Gaggle for e-mail communications with the kids. It is safe and filtered.”1
- The Beaufort School District in Beaufort, South Carolina, has recently expanded their iPad program to include some 8,400 tablet devices to be used by its middle and high school students. They say the program has “increased student engagement in learning and familiarized students with mobile technology that they will use in college and in their careers.”2
Students’ New Age Learning Aids and Games
Teachers aren’t the only ones having fun with mobile technology. Students are having a good time with it too. There’s nothing better than disguising learning with fun, interactive apps. Here are a few educational applications kids are using.
- Stack the States is an app that teaches students about U.S. geography with a playful cartoon theme.
- BrainPop/BrainPop Jr. is used in thousands of classrooms and is available by traditional website as well as a mobile app. Covering every subject and grade level, this diverse teacher’s assistant can keep kids learning at home too.
- Shakespeare is an app that provides all of Shakespeare’s greatest works along with concordance for easy referencing.
- Storykit is for the budding writer. With high stakes writing tests, Storykit is essential for elementary school students.
With hundreds of educational apps, kids are staying busy and learning on mobile devices. The level of connectivity is at an all-time high, and we can only hope that technology continues to aid and benefit teachers and students.
1 Cara Bafile, “Mobile Technology Goes to School,” Education World, 2009.
2 Ken Hawkins, “Beaufort School District calls iPad program a success, will bring total to 8,400,” The Digital, 22 May 2013.
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