Mobile learning refers to the use of mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, or other similar devices for instructional purposes. Mobile learning is a very new development in the field of education, and there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the issue of how (and how much) mobile learning should be used in the classroom. In this post, I will make a case for using mobile devices for learning purposes, addressing the question:
Why should a teacher be prepared to allow or require students to use mobile devices to achieve learning objectives?
Reasons for using mobile technology:
- Today’s “Digital Native” students will come to expect more and more technology incorporated into their day.
- Tomorrow’s employers will expect their future employees to not only to be digitally competent, but to be able to use technology in creative and innovative ways.
- Mobile devices can help to provide individualized learning opportunities for each student simultaneously in a way that a teacher using traditional methods simply can’t.
- Mobile learning can be used to extend learning outside the classroom, so that students can be engaged with content any time, anywhere.
- Mobile learning can bring the outside world into the classroom, allowing students to connect with worldwide networks in ways that were not possible before.
- Mobile learning offers the possibility for ongoing assessment of students’ skills with quick and easy tracking of detailed data.
- Many educational apps and games incorporate some form of reward, which can increase student motivation and engagement.
- Use of mobile technology can increase parent and family involvement and allow easy communication between school and home.
- Mobile devices are cost effective relative to desktop computers and easier for young student to use independently (Zipparo et al., 2015).
Guiding principles for the use of mobile learning in Early Childhood Education:
- The privacy and safety of students is of the utmost priority when using mobile devices and connecting to the internet.
- Time and attention should be spent training students on how to handle devices safely and carefully.
- Clear rules for using devices appropriately with related, consistent consequences should be established from the outset.
- While using mobile devices can undoubtedly make lessons more interesting for students, this should not be their sole purpose. Mobile devices should be used because they improve the quality of instruction and allow students to meet learning objectives more effectively. In other words, there needs to be a clear purpose for their use related to their value for learning and/or assessment.
- Developmentally appropriate educational technology should be carefully chosen.
- Devices should not replace social interaction with their peers – mobile learning should be used to provide additional opportunities for collaboration and interacting with others, but not replace face-to-face interaction.
- Use of technology is more effective when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children (US Dept. of Education).
Several examples of the effective use of mobile technology with Early Learners:
- Creating instructional videos and sharing them with students and parents to create a “flipped classroom” allows teachers to maximize time in the classroom by giving students opportunities to apply the content that was delivered virtually and accessed through mobile devices from home or elsewhere. Rather than spending classroom time delivering a “lecture”, students can view these from outside of the classroom, then use what they learned to engage in more interactive activities at school. Flipped classrooms for young learners also have the advantage of easily keeping parents and families “in the loop” about what children are learning at school.
- New online libraries like Raz-Kids, accessible through smart phones and tablets, allow students to access hundreds of books for the price of a single set of traditional readers. They also allow teachers to give highly individualized assignments and track student skills progress. Student choice is increased because they can choose books that interest them from a wide variety of options, and rewards that are built into the system gamify learning and motivate students.
- There are many apps around that allow students the opportunity to interact with stories and texts and to express themselves creatively in new ways. Adding mobile technology and mobile learning apps into the mix gives young students the opportunity to build digital literacy while also allowing them to express themselves and present their ideas in entirely new and different ways.
US Department of Education, Office of Education Technology (n.d.). Guiding Principles for Use of Technology for Early Learners. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/principles/ on June 29, 2017.
Zipparo, Shelley; Robinson, Carly; and Hazeldene, Rowanne (2015). Using Mobile Technology in an Early Childhood Setting. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-642-41981-2_51-1 on June 29, 2017.
Hands with mobile devices image: https://elearningnvironment.wordpress.com/tag/mobile-learning/