Repost: Creating a Culture of Mobile Technology in Education

Originally posted on August 27th, 2010

How do we create a culture of mobile technology in education, specifically inside the classroom? I think about this often as I do more to integrate technology into my own classroom. Students, and their teachers, are often very satisfied with the status quo mainly because it makes ‘sense’ to them. Our traditional models of education that restrict technology and keep mobile devices in student’s pockets seem simple. We give students the information that they ‘need,’ we manage them, we create quiet and controlled spaces. It is a powerful tradition, and it has worked for a long time.

What we need to do to break this tradition down is no different than has been done for thousands of years. It is the same revolutionary idea that thinkers from Socrates to Lennon were involved in, but we as teachers have the power to really change the world with.

Questions.

Now, I am not about to go into a monologue about questioning techniques, there are enough great books out there about questioning without my adding 2 cents. However, questioning in the right environment and with the right techniques can really push students to use their mobile devices in practical and effective ways. At this point in the blog, most of you will realize that mobile devices for me can be anything from school owned laptops, to smart phones in the student’s pockets.

You see, what would happen if you dropped your overheads on the Civil War or the Endocrine System and instead asked students what happened, or how the system worked? Students would still come to the same information, with verification by you, but they will have ‘discovered’ the answer instead of taking notes on it. With further questioning, you can have the students discover what the moist important elements of the learning are, sequence them, or debate different perspectives that came out of the research. Instead of being simply knowledge dissemination, you have created a learning moment and empowered your students.

It is a simple method that ‘makes sense’ to us as educators, as we know the value of inquiry to learning. In fact, most of our personal professional learning is structured around our own needs and inquirer about education.

I contend that most of what we need technology for in the classroom students can handle with their own devices. Rather than buying class sets of technology, we need to let the students bring what they are comfortable using and supplement this who do not have a tool to use. However, in order for this to happen, we have to embrace these devices and show that they are wonderful resources for education. When we create a culture of using mobile technology in the classroom, we are then in a position to give support to others who do not yet feel comfortable opening their classrooms to the power of devices students walk into the classroom with.

Watch for an upcoming post discussing how to work with administration and school policy that is not open to personal mobile devices. For my work, I have to assume an open policy in general, but our school used to have a closed policy at one point, and we have changed our stance in the last two years. Yours can too.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!


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