As mobile learning becomes more and more popular, so does the potential for distraction in the classroom. With so many captivating apps and games, it is easy to see how students would have a hard time putting their smartphones and other mobile devices away. While confiscating or removing them from the classroom is one approach, it might not always be the most effective. More and more teachers are experimenting with ways to integrate mobile learning into their lesson plans. Continue reading to learn how mobile learning can benefit education in and out of the classroom.
Read on for a list of creative ways you can transform a distracting mobile device into a learning tool. If you’re interested in how to better integrate technology into your classroom, visit ViewSonic Education.
While the benefits of technology in the classroom have been well established, mobile devices are another issue. Smartphones have always been associated with leisure and entertainment more than education and learning, and teachers are inclined toward blanket bans in the classroom. However, blanket bans ignore the benefits that mobile learning can bring to the classroom. These powerful handheld devices not only enable access to the Internet and a universe of educational apps, but their fast speeds and vast processing power make them essential tools, particularly for engineering and science students.
Furthermore, while not every student has access to a notebook or tablet computer, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows that 95% of American teens own a smartphone. In fact, this poll indicates that nearly half of American teens are online “almost constantly,” even during school hours. While most of the time this means surfing YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat (the top three apps, according to Pew), this also means these devices are readily available for use in the classroom. In fact, 30% of smartphone owners already use their mobile devices for on-the-go learning and compared to other devices, mobile learners are proven to be 43% more productive.
So, rather than trying to ban something that is so necessary, innovative teachers and technology startups are figuring out how to turn these potential sources of distraction into potent educational devices.
Assess Learning and Stay Organized
Ken Halla, a 22-year veteran high school history teacher, is at the forefront of incorporating mobile technologies into the classroom. To help students stay better organized, Halla recommends using Remind101 to remind students of upcoming assignments. “I was stunned by how many kids started doing homework,” he said in a recent article by the National Education Association. Remind also allows teachers and students to share photos, handouts, and flyers, and enables instant messaging so teachers can handle issues as they arise.
Halla also uses polleverywhere.com to assess learning. Students receive texts through the app with multiple choice questions, and Halla says their performance on these questions shows him which areas students are doing well in, and which sections need more reviewing.
myViewBoard Suite is a collection of apps and tools that can help build better student engagement with interactive lessons. When used in combination with myViewBoard Companion, students can interact with the digital whiteboard from their mobile devices. This resource streamlines the educational experience, enabling teachers to seamlessly send announcements, begin discussions, share resources, and submit and grade assignments. Students only need a QR code for the learning process to begin. Companion is great for mobile interactivity so students can share onto the Whiteboard canvas, complete pop quizzes, throw screens, and wireless control for teachers.
Using Learning Apps in the Classroom
Sure, mobile devices are sources of entertainment and screen time facilitates socializing for most students, but these devices also enable access to a vast array of educational apps. Educational apps are shown to enhance classroom performance by offering interactive and engaging learning experiences. These learning apps can provide virtually unlimited access to educational content and by innovating new learning techniques, promote collaboration among students, teachers, and parents.
Quiz generator Quizlet, for example, enables teachers to create flashcards, games, and quizzes that are always available on their phones. Students can collaborate and challenge each other, allowing them to learn while being social and having fun.
Furthermore, while mathematics is tough for many students, the educational app Photomath makes math clear, understandable, and even fun. The Photomath app uses the smartphone’s camera to read and solve students’ mathematical problems instantly, checking their work for any printed or handwritten problems. This app teaches students how to approach math problems through clear steps and detailed instructions, and even offers multiple methods for solving problems. Teachers and students alike say this app is highly effective.
Educational Apps Outside of the Classroom
Students have an array of learning styles, and each student has a style that works best for them. Luckily, the array of educational apps that have been designed can reach students no matter what their learning style is. For students that learn better on their own rather than in a social setting, or need extra support outside of the classroom, there are numerous apps available to assist them.
EdX, for example, brings over 2,000 classes from the world’s top universities to students’ smartphones. Featuring video tutorials, study material handouts, and interactive quizzes, EdX enables advanced supplementary learning at an individual’s own pace.
Khan Academy is another highly popular learning app that features video tutorials to drive home classroom studies. Khan Academy videos feature teachers describing their lessons in drawings on virtual blackboards, helping students and visual learning centers bring home maximum results.
Likewise, Udemy is an extremely popular learning resource that offers over 100,000 classes from top instructors, interactive quizzes, and the ability to track student progress.
Computer programming is increasingly important in the modern world, and SoloLearn enables students to learn the world’s most in-demand programming languages, including Python, HTML, and Java, on their mobile devices, at their own pace.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Innovative teacher Ken Halla allows what is perhaps the most revolutionary use of mobile devices in the classroom – listening to music while doing solo work. Halla requires them to use headphones, of course, and to not listen too loudly to ensure that they don’t distract others. Also, he asks them to listen on an app that only streams music so they won’t become disengaged by picking a new song every few minutes. He says that the noise level in the classroom goes down and productivity increases.
Integrating mobile devices into classroom learning will continue to be a challenge for teachers. Ensuring that they’re primarily used for education requires vigilance. The traditional image of the teacher lecturing from the blackboard at the front of the classroom is increasingly old-fashioned, and the proliferation of mobile devices requires that teachers continuously encourage, motivate, and guide their students, both individually and in small groups.