5 Essential Insights About Mobile Learning
1. Set goals and expectations for teaching and learning with mobile devices before worrying about the device itself.
St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado,
Mooresville Graded School District
Consolidated High School District 230
2. Develop a strong community of support for the initiative early and keep up transparent communication with parents and community members throughout the process.
Forsyth County Schools in Georgia.
3. Think about equity, but don’t let it stop forward motion.
includes both urban and rural areas,
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of a mobile learning initiative based on the goals set at the beginning of the rollout.
5. Some of the biggest lessons learned include giving up control and trusting students.
included students in the discussions
While these mobile learning pioneers have seen some of the pitfalls and can help districts new to the game avoid the same stumbles, this space is changing quickly and every community’s needs will be different.
“It’s no longer just something you implement; it’s evolving and it’s unique in each location,” Bjerede said. “If you try to be cookie cutter about it you won’t meet the needs of every kid in every classroom.”
The technology will change, students will surprise their teachers and the best advice to district leaders is to stay open to all the possibilities and allow students to take control of the tremendous learning opportunity that having a device at all times could offer them.
My note: Kathrina Schwartz offers an opinion, which reflects the second wave (withdrawl) in the 3 steps of innovation
The Struggles and Realities of Student-Driven Learning and BYOD
A 2013 Pew study revealed that only 35 percent of teachers at the lowest income schools allow their students to look up information on their mobile devices, as compared to 52 percent of teachers at wealthier schools.
Many advocates of using mobile technologies say the often cited issues of student distraction are just excuses not to try something new.
“The way you discourage it is engage them in the activity so they don’t even think of sending a text. You’ve got to jump in and play their game or you’re going to lose them.”
Angela Crawford has heard all the arguments of BYOD evangelists, but doesn’t see how they match the reality of her classroom. “BYOD is very problematic in many schools, mine included, because we have a prominent engagement problem,” Crawford said.
Tactics to improve engagement like making work relevant to her students’ lives or letting them use their phones in class to look up information, haven’t worked for Crawford, although she’s tried.
When she first started, Crawford was enthusiastic about jumping into collaborative, project-based learning. “I thought my colleagues were monsters because of how they were teaching,” she said of a school where she previously worked and where teachers lectured all the time. She tried to teach students through projects, but found it was a disaster. To her students’ parents, her efforts to make the classroom “student-centered” looked like she wasn’t teaching. “There is a different perception of what a teacher should be in different cultures,” Crawford said. “And in the African-American community in the South the teacher is supposed to do direct instruction.”
“What works best for each student is really the heart of student-centered learning,” Crawford said. “Sometimes what the student needs best is direct instruction. They need that authoritative, in-control figure who is directing their learning and will get them where they need to go.” Many of Crawford’s students come from homes run by single mothers who rule with an iron hand. She tries to replicate that attitude and presence. “They respond to that; they like it,” Crawford said. “It’s comforting to them.”
Still, Crawford will not be experimenting with a bring-your-own-device program. “My problem with education innovation is we tend to want to take a new technology or a new idea and go forth with it as if it’s the silver bullet,” Crawford said. “What happens is that teachers who teach in my type of environment realize this would be a disaster in my classroom.”
Crawford is skeptical that kids in higher income areas aren’t misusing technology too. Her children attend school in a more affluent district and they tell her that kids are constantly messing around on their devices. They just switch screens when a teacher comes by. They get away with it because their teachers trust them to do their work.
“I think kids in middle class or upper middle class schools are equally distracted as low-income students,” said Bob Lenz, director of innovation at Envision Schools, a small charter network that’s part of the deeper learning movement. “It’s just that because of the privilege of their background the content and the skills that they need to gain in school — they’re coming with a lot of those skills already– so it’s not as urgently needed.”