Mobile devices in the classroom have a bad reputation as distractions and time-wasters.
But the fact of the matter is that mobile technology is an inevitable part of the modern classroom. So instead of focusing on the perils of mobile tech, it’s important to integrate it into education in such a way that it benefits teachers, students, and administrative staff.
And one place that mobile technology has always excelled is in its ability to improve accessibility. Whether access to new information, different media, or education itself mobile is an important part of technology in the classroom as a whole.
The fundamental purpose of mobile devices is connectivity. Even the earliest version of the cell phone connected people to each other through the ever-present ability to make a phone call. Today smartphones and connected tablets offer every individual their own portal to the Internet and the sum of all human information. Never before has humanity has so much information at their fingertips.
On a more personal level, however, mobile devices connect students, teachers, and support staff to each other. People can through direct calling and text messages to widely available communication tools like WhatsApp or Slack and even self-managed social media communities on Facebook, Reddit, or any of a huge number of platforms. Whether for group projects or to ask questions, mobile devices make it easy for learners and educators to connect to their peers anywhere at any time.
Remote learning works well as a supplement to regular lessons, as part of blended learning or a flipped classroom, or even as a stand-alone course. It could include lessons that are streamed live either with a webcam or screencasting software. Remote learning could also be a lesson recorded in some way for later review. Alternatively, remote learning could be a native online learning program like an LMS (learning management system) or MOOC (massive open online course).
The value of remote learning would depend very much on how it is to be used, but it’s a great addition to a curriculum both inside and outside the classroom.
- Students who are miss class or live in remote areas can use remote learning to keep up with their lessons from wherever they are.
- Teachers can supplement live lessons with remote content either from a live stream or a set of recorded media.
- Recorded lessons offer students the opportunity to review and reinforce materials at their own pace.
- Using mobile technology means that students take learning materials with them to other locations around the classroom, the school, or the community as needed.
Accommodates Multiple Learning Styles
And mobile technology in the classroom doesn’t just help students from a distance. For many students with learning challenges, mobile technologies can break down barriers to academic success in traditional learning environments. A mobile device could present information more efficiently to a student with dyslexia or in a format structured for learners on the autism spectrum. Or a phone or a tablet could help a student with reduced mobility better access and interact with course materials.
It could even be as simple as allowing students to switch media to better suit their learning styles. A visual learner having problems engaging with a lecture can access a video - or an illustrated text - while still participating in the lesson. An auditory learner can use text-to-speech to optimize learning. Or a kinesthetic learner can actually move around with the device to improve engagement while staying connected to learning materials.
Mobile technology in the classroom is a double-edged sword for sure. But when it is applied correctly, mobile tech in education avoids the pitfalls of distraction and reduced communication while leveraging the engagement and versatility of personal devices.
Most of all, however, mobile devices do for education what they do for everyone: they make learning more accessible. Now everyone with a device can get a better education where they are and on their own terms. In a connected world, all learning is available in the palm of your hand.