My attitude on mobile technology has come a long way since my post in August 2011 for Ed 620, “Cell Phones in Schools”. Since that post, more and more educational technology in the form of great new apps has greatly swayed my opinion in the realm of mobile technology in the classroom. I did a lot of exploration on my own, but this course has furthered my interest in the benefits of mobile technology in the classroom. I hope to actually implement some of the apps I learned about in ED 610 in my classroom, rather than just experiment with them.
This course has been extremely great at helping me to explore the possibilities for my classroom. I even said in my post in 2011 (about technology in the classroom) “One that has not been discussed in any technology course I have taken is the use of cell phones in the classroom.” I was hoping a course would come that would truly show me the educational benefits of mobile technology, above and beyond Twitter. This course did that and more. The discussions really helped me to review many apps, without having to spend the time exploring all of them. The exploration section helped me to actually force myself to learn how to use apps for more than just recreation. I can honestly say, this course provided me with tools that I will actually use. I will definitely be recommending this course to my colleagues.
The only thing I really wish would have been different about this course is that I took it in a full semester. I imagine that more students and more weeks of class would give all of us more great ideas and apps. I imagine this course will be continually changing and growing as more great apps enter the scene. There will most definitely continue to be a need for a course like this in the future.
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
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.
My prior experience with mobile productivity was more limited to personal productivity, rather than productivity in the educational setting. For example, I use several different fitness apps (MapMyRide, Nike+, MyFitnessPal, etc.) to track exercise and stay fit. I also use online banking tools via my mobile devices to pay bills and manage finances. Another major mobile productivity app I use is my calendar. I am synced with my Google calendar, as well as my husband’s calendar, so that we can stay current on plans; this has been a lifesaver! I also have a GrocerySmart app, so that my husband and I can sync a grocery list as we think of things we need. Then when it comes time to buy groceries, whichever person goes to the store has the list. So, I use personal productivity tools often.
This module will increase my use of productivity tools in the educational setting. I really foresee myself using iAnnotate to proofread students’ papers. This has been such and needed app. Many teachers I work with print all of their papers still, leaving us all hoping for a better way; I think iAnnotate could be the solution. In fact, I have already passed it on to some of my colleagues. The twintext app will also come in handy for editing and research, for students and me. I also think I am moving closer to transferring all of my files to a new home on Google Drive.
I think that many of these productivity tools have a place in the educational setting. The LogMeIn app would allow me to remotely access my desktop from anywhere in my room! I think from the teaching standpoint I will use these apps frequently.A big problem/setback is the reality of the digital divide. Most schools are leaning towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) rather than a program that would provide each student an iPad. Coming from a lower income district, the BYOD initiative will just further separate students. It is also making it tough on teachers to attempt to use any app or program, when not all students have access to it. It really is an unfortunate setback, with so many great educational tools right at our fingertips. The integration of these apps will be much easier on a college campus, where students can be required to purchase a device or app or maybe even in a computer classroom with a set of equally equipped iPads. As with all things in education, where there is a will there is a way. No one thought we would be teaching with SMARTBoards either. Hopefully, in the near future we will be able to equip students enough to provide them access to these tools.
Mobile photo apps are something I have always found to be “neat” when other people use them. I have dabbled some in apps like Instagram, but never on a regular basis or with any other real intent than to see what the apps are all about. After trying several for this class, I have found them to be pretty cool. I really enjoyed Photo Splash and Insta Cap, among others. My biggest struggle is finding the time to put that much effort into one photo. I am usually snapping pictures quickly of my son and then off to other adventures, which leaves me many, many pictures hidden in files on my computer.
These files might be better saved to a mobile image hosting site. Prior to this course, I had never really checked into that too much. I think it would be a valuable resource for me, especially since I hate the thought of losing my wonderful pictures of Benjamin. My biggest dread is the thought of moving all of those images from their random homes. It is kind of like trying to get a hoarder to organize their home; I am going to need some sort of intervention (or a free weekend).
Mobile presentations are things that I have had some experience with. I would say Glogster is the closest I have come. While using Glogster in my class, I explored the mobile app. I really enjoyed how much easier it was for students to build a glog using a touch interface. Still, many of the apps in this course were newer to me. i had heard of Prezi and Doceri, but never really had the need or equipment to make using them worthwhile. Now that the possibility of using things such as this is becoming a reality, I am glad to begin exploring them. I liked that Nearpod allowed students to take a quiz on the material, but I didn’t find it to be the most user friendly. Educreations, on the other hand, seemed more user friendly, at least for a 7th grade student.
I think that there is a place for all of these apps in the educational setting, provided the hardware is accessible to all students in some form or another. I get a little leery allowing students to take photos at school and upload them directly to the internet. It may be on the overprotective side, but we have had many bullying instances involving unflattering pictures of students and teachers being posted without their consent. Still, it would be beneficial to the students and the school to teach students proper use and give them a positive outlet for their creative mobile photo; be it in art class or a presentation. Even through the use of image hosting sites, students could upload at home and access at school for presentations. It would be great for me to be able to access pictures for presentations anywhere, as well. The image hosting sites would allow for less storage on school devices and more access points, which would be a good thing. Mobile presentations would really make one-to-one scenarios more interactive. I often find students or myself trying to explain what we are doing on our computers to one another. With presentation apps, we could put the image right on the board and lead each other through the steps. Really, all of these apps are beneficial in the educational setting because they cause students to explore and build their own knowledge through discovery, rather than just through rote knowledge.
In ED 620 we have learned about lots of great technology tools to use in the classroom. One that has not been discussed in any technology course I have taken is the use of cell phones in the classroom. All of the tools we learned about could be accessed on cell phones for interactive lessons, such as posting to Twitter while in class. Still, after reading several articles I am torn about whether or not cell phones have a place in the K-12 classroom.
There are many things to consider. The pros and cons of cell phones in the classroom are endless. From emergency notifications to vocabulary practice. I find it hard to determine whether or not they would be more of a distraction than a positive addition.
In a NY Times article, they gave several ideas for discussing the possibilities of cell phones in school with students. I have discussed it with my students in the past, but kids tend to lean towards unlimited freedoms regardless of the impact to their education. Let’s face it, they would much rather text than learn grammar (and who can blame them?).
I think it would be very similar to one-to-one computing. I have found that seventh grade students lack the ability to self-regulate, and often find them playing games when they should be listening. Despite the benefits of the computers in the classroom, I often have to ask that they be closed until we are ready to work in order to keep students focused. As adults we have trouble focusing ourselves. I don’t know how many conferences I have been to where adults text the entire time, rather than staying focused on the speaker or information at hand.
Still, fighting cell phone use in the classroom is a never-ending battle. I could see allowing them in study halls, but I think the digital divide still plays a key role in this argument. While they could be used educationally, that still does not change the fact that not all students can afford them. With budgets continuing to be cut, I can’t see districts buying iPhones for all of their students.
In the end, I think I fall somewhere in the middle on this argument. I don’t mind if students use cell phones during downtime, but I feel that they would take away from the learning environment more than they would be a benefit during class time.
For my final project for ED 620, I am submitting a webquest I have been working on. To me webquest have always been sort of like internet scavenger hunts. One major difference is that usually they submerge students into a project using a real life scenario. Both internet scavenger hunts and webquests definitely have their place. Here are some great webquest resources to check out:
In ED 620 we have been talking a lot about great online tools, including blogs like this, to reach our students, colleagues, and even students’ parents. While reading the news online yesterday, an article about a school in Missouri caught my eye:
Basically the article explains how a district is creating a policy to stop teachers and students from interacting on online platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.
On a collegiate level, I don’t see any reason why students and teachers cannot “friend” each other or communicate outside of class. Adults have many more freedoms than kids, and that is okay. On a public school level, I can see many reasons that it could blur some boundaries. To me, Facebook is a no brainer. Because it is a social site, meant for social interaction, I have not allowed students to “friend” me. I am not their friends in real life; I am their teacher. I enjoy this teacher’s video about this boundary:
Still, while I don’t add students to Facebook, blogs and Twitter pages that are created specifically for educational purposes (homework help, collaborations) are okay with me. Unfortunately, the Missouri school’s policy blocks all of those too.
This isn’t a new topic. When I googled I found tons of articles devoted to this dilemma. Even Facebook has a group dedicated to this discussion. I can see the need for schools to have access to passwords and login information if a site is created for school use. Truly, if I am creating a blog that is legitimately for school purposes, this should be no problem to provide administrative access to my principal or superintendent. While this topic needs to be discussed and boundaries created, I would hate to see all districts adopt polices forbidding online communication out of fear. I think it goes back to idea that anything, including a pencil, if misused can become dangerous. That doesn’t mean we stopped using pencils and we shouldn’t stop using online tools to reach our students.