Is it time for mobile learning in schools?

Posted by Ronald | January 24, 2014  |  No Comment

With an unstable economy, the operating budget continues to be a challenge for many schools. To offset cost and increase the use of educational technology, the critical questions to be asked are: Is it time for mobile learning in schools? How are mobile devices being used in schools? What are some of the pros and cons of using mobile devices?

Mobile learning is often abbreviated as mLearning or m-Learning. The types of portable computing technologies include: E-readers, Netbooks, Media Players, Personal Digital Assistants (PDSs) and Mobile Phones. According to the National Forum of Educational, Administration and Supervision Journal, electronic devices such as cell phones and digital cameras can enhance instruction or be a viable learning tool for schools that have little or no internet access in the classrooms. They can serve as mobile computers or devices for these schools since many students own and bring these devices to school.

As an instructional aid, cellular telephones can be used in schools to take notes, share notes with students, record assignments, poll students and access assignments in text, visual or audio formats. They can enhance the learning process because educators have discovered that students are more engaged by the integration of technology in the curriculum than textbook assignments and teacher lectures. Moreover, cell phones can be used for constructing knowledge. Students have the capabilities of using their cell phones to create blogs, collect and store data and develop multimedia projects.

On the other hand, cell phones and other electronic devices can impede learning in educational institutions when students do not use them according to school policy. Proponents complain about students using their cell phones to cheat on tests, send voice messages, read text messages, post photos and video images of students and cyber bullying (i.e. sending or posting crude and harmful texts and images of students from their cell phones). Schools are forced to address these negative uses of media in order to maintain a safe learning environment and avoid legal ramifications.

While attending the 2013 Blueprint of Excellence National Conference, presenter Travis Allen, Co-Founder of iSchool Initiative, explained the importance of m-Learning being used in schools to prepare students for the real-world. Allen said, “While in high school, he received his first smartphone and started reading books, taking note and using the graphic calculator with it but noticed there was a huge gap between his education and the real-world experience.” At the time, Allen’s school only used the computer lab for word processing and occasionally allowed students to play games on the computer. There was little or no internet use and cell phones were banned. As such, Allen’s cell phone was confiscated due to school policy. As a result of this experience, Allen launched the iSchool Initiative providing professional development to schools across the country on the integration of educational technology in the classrooms.

Technology is not going away with the increasing thirst for information. Schools can use technology to offset cost and afford students multiple ways to learn. According to the old adage, if you can’t beat them, then join them.  Schools must look for ways to integrate the use of mobile technology into the learning process.

 Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of four books, “Education Questions to be Answered,”  “Current Issues and Answers in Education,”  “How to Eradicate Hazing and “Professional Career Paths.” He is publisher of “The Holmes Education Post,” an education focused Internet newspaper.  Holmes is a former teacher, school administrator and district superintendent. He can be reached at [email protected].




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