• October 2014
  • NJ Online Learning Services
  • Using Mobile Learning to Connect with Students

    Schools across the United States, indeed across the globe, face the challenge of providing access and support to their teachers on how to use current technologies to engage students and deliver instruction; as well as to engage and inform parents. Many home school parents face these same challenges. It can seem at times that just as we seem to master one technology, something new comes along that requires us to update our skills and technical awareness. The use of mobile learning technologies and the supporting content and communication tools are one way that many educators are providing a more individualized and collaborative learning environment. A recent report from Project Tomorrow identified the following reasons why schools are implementing mobile learning opportunities:

    Why mobile learning?

    • Greater ability to individualize learning
    • Increases student engagement
    • Promotes collaboration with other students
    • Increases in attendance and participation
    • Increases student engagement
    • Mobile Learning is fun

    As I read through this report, I was reminded of an interaction that I witnessed between a student and teacher during a school visit last year. During a forum in which teachers and students were brought together share their views on the use of technology in learning, a student used his smart phone to illustrate the disconnect in how such technologies could be leveraged for educational purposes. With a bit of dramatic flair, the student took his device off of his belt and held it up asking the adults in the room what they saw.  To a person, all of the teachers stated that it was “a phone.” 

    “Precisely my point!” the student declared. “You see a phone when in reality this is my computer. This is my connection to information.” He then went on to share how a teacher recently scolded him for “having his phone out in class” when in reality, he was using it to learn more about the topic that the teacher had been discussing in class because he was interested in the lesson. 

    Access to devices that support mobile learning is rapidly increasing. In 2013, mobile phones overtook the standard PC as the most common web access device worldwide. Within the next five years virtually all phones sold will be a smart phone.

    It would also appear that access to smart phones and other mobile devices is on the rise. Of course this comes as no surprise if you have been with a group of teens lately. Today’s students crave ownership of such devices much like students just had to have a pair of designer jeans in the ‘80s or a pair of Air Jordan sneakers in the ‘90s. 

    Forty-four percent of K-12 students report have access to a smartphone. The fastest growing segment for new smartphone purchases are for 13-17 year olds. Sixty-two percent of students stated that they prefer mobile devices over laptops for learning.

    Of course the rise in the number of our students with smartphones does not come without the need to address appropriate usage and communication. Clearly the statistics above speaks to how educators must rethink how they inform and connect with the students and how we should move past the notion that "phones have no place in class.”

    Do you or  teachers in you school have experience in allowing students to use mobile devices in your school?  If so, I welcome the opportunity to hear from you - the successes, challenges, and considerations for others.

    NJASA has recently announced the creation of New Jersey Online Learning Services, offering students in your district the opportunity to enroll in a variety of high-quality online courses. Please consider participating in our free webinar series in which an online learning topic is addressed each month.

    If you have questions about online and blended learning as well as what options may be available to you, e-mail me at: bfriendconsulting@gmail.com