Mobile Learning: An Introduction
contributed by Janis Beem
Smartphones–connected, video streaming, image capturing devices are a lot of fun. And what’s more, they can align perfectly with your classroom’s goals. Check out these tips and teaching resources before you take your first steps into the portable version of eLearning.
Organize Before You Invest
The first step to mobile learning for many parents and educators is to get schools on board. Fortunately, there are plenty of reasons to make the investment. Schools can save on the larger cost of class computers, and the portable devices mean that a school can buy twenty iPads to move from room to room rather than investing in a stationary computer lab. Organizational devices like Bretford’s PowerSync Cart make it simple for instructional technology managers to safely store and update the devices.
Another option for schools is the “bring your own device” (BYOD) movement, which allows students to bring their own phones and devices to the classroom. Educators should be prepared with Acceptable Use Policy documents for parents, plus a few extra devices in the event students don’t have their own or parents choose to keep it at home. Students should also have a safe space to store their devices when not in use for educational purposes.
Plan Your Curriculum Around The 4 Cs Of Mobile Learning
Mobile learning goes way beyond a few tailored apps. When you’re planning a mobile curriculum, think about the different ways students can use a mobile device. The eLearning Guild calls it “the four C’s of mobile:”
- Content: Students can read documents, watch videos and listen to recorded media in a portable format.
- Compute: Through applications, devices can be used to perform calculations, run programs and deliver computed solutions to student queries.
- Capture: Devices can be used to easily record sound, video, images, and other information, all of which can be stored or shared.
- Communicate: Students can communicate with students, teachers, and others through text, audio and video.
Utilizing all four C’s of mobile learning can help you focus lesson plans and expand the way in which students use the devices. What’s more, different types of learning are represented; visual learners benefit from photo and video applications, for example, while auditory learners find a facility with recorded assignments.
The ways you can utilize a mobile device are as varied as the capabilities for the device itself. Students might record and edit a music video in an afternoon, play memory games with images displayed on cell phones, or do a texting communication exercise requiring one group to describe a drawing to a group in another room, which then tries to replicate it based on the written instructions. Beyond simple functions, custom applications are designed to facilitate the learning process.
4 Educational Apps To Get Started
From kindergarten through college, mobile learning adds an easy, hands-on component with tools that students may already use every day. Check out these fun applications that double as teaching resources for students of all ages:
- EcoBugs: Teachers create simple games for students to track and catch bugs in real locations. Students can share data, learn about habitats and adaptation, and solve problems in teams using an iPhone. (ages 7-11)
- Evernote: This powerful note-taking and organization app — for iPhone, iPod, Android, and Blackberry — is perfect for students preparing for their first research paper or collaborating with others. (ages 15+)
- LetterSchool: This app promises to “make handwriting cool” for kids learning how to write. The simple guide for iPad displays a letter without guidelines, allowing kids to trace to prompt an animation. (ages 3-5)
- MIT App Inventor: Why be bound to the apps on a list when you can create your own? This application starts in the student’s browser and is updated on their phone, relying on simple visual design instead of complex code. (ages 15-18)
- PSAT Ace: The last word in studying for the PSAT exam, this Ace for iPod and iPad covers verbal, critical reading, math and writing skills and includes hundreds of sample questions to keep students challenged. (ages 13-15)
Technology is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be wasted. With the right control and guidance, mobile devices can be used for learning just as easily as your students currently use them as storage devices for Emoji. Make a plan for integrating mobile devices into your curriculum and tap into the tools that already enhance the education experience for both students and teachers.
Janis Beem is a freelance writer in Austin, TX. She is also a contributor to onlineschools; image attribution flickr user blakespot