My prior experience with mobile tools for my learners has been minimal. Because of the lack of accessibility to mobile tools for all or even most learners, I have not incorporated them much in my curriculum. I have explored them on my own for future use when using sites such as Glogster.com and Weebly.com. I have often recommended apps to students for their own use. I have also tried to stay current on educational websites and blogs about what is out there; hoping that eventually it would be realistic for my own classroom. Last year I was given one of our school’s 8 iPads to use in my classroom for several months and allowed to download apps, with prior approval, to test in my classroom. We had to get prior approval to download apps and take the iPad down to a technician to enter the password anytime we wanted to download an app, so it became tedious and almost unrealistic. Because of having it, I did a lot more research into educational apps. I did find several apps, that I downloaded on my home iPad, that I thought were very appealing.
If I had to classify my thoughts on students using mobile devices, I would say I am coming around to the idea. I have some real concerns:
- Uncontrolled student photography/digital media of students and teachers
- Battling with relentless messaging
- Increased cyber-bullying
- Games, games, and more games
- The digital divide
Now, after voicing the concerns, I tend to be on board for students using them mobile devices in school. I feel that most students have mobile devices on them, and whether we like it or not they use them at school. In some ways, allowing it would be one less battle to fight. I am in a constant battle with students regarding their gaming and messaging habits in class. Still, I remind my fellow teachers often that in “real-life” students must learn to balance or multi-task their online activities with school work (as Facebook is currently open in my other tab). Today’s learners are not as linearly focused, but rather,constantly involved in several things or tabs at once.
Also, we could have rules in place that address the problems, rather than just avoiding the inevitable. When we moved to one-to-one, I was really more in favor of netbook carts, rather than personal netbooks. The ability to take away the technology is helpful. Still, now that we are one-to-one I realize the control is in the hands of the teacher. It is all about how you choose to approach it. If students were allowed and/or expected to have a mobile device teachers would be able to monitor its use by simply having the student keep the device visible at all times. A contract could be made with parents that administrators reserve the right to confiscate the device and search it if needed. With the right rules and steps in place, a mobile device is no more dangerous than a piece of paper. With all of the great tools available to our students, mobile devices could actually further education, rather than hinder it.