Mobile Learning

In an article for Education World, Cara Bafile (2009), highlights the endeavor of 5th grade teacher Matt Cook as he brings cell phones into the hands of his students to study the effect on learning.  Cook stated in the article that it is worth investigating, as he thinks the use of cell phones “will become the cheapest way to do one-to -one computing” (Bafile, 2009).  Cook also stated that he saw an increase in communication after hours between himself and students.  Why is Cook’s idea worth mention?  “It is imperative that instructors learn about and adapt to the changing environments,” (Corbeil & Valdes-Corbeil, (2007).

Whether or not your students are using cell phones for academics, they are surely using them, or some other technology throughout their day.  How can we leverage what they are using, or are provided with if one-to one to increase student achievement?  We must have the support from various parties:  students, parents, and administrators.  I am fortunate that my current district is 1:1 with MacBooks.  It eliminates some problems that may be encountered in a bring your own device (BYOD) district.  The biggest challenge that I see is supporting all the various devices that may be encountered. Second is ensuring that each device has the ability to access the network to be able to complete whatever they need to do so that they are not relying on data plans, or a signal that could be non-existent for many reasons. However, it is worth getting the technology into the classroom however you can.

Mobile learning can bring the world to the students.  Literally.  Using Google Earth, students can explore the moon through the viewpoint of previous lunar missions.  This is just one example of virtual field trips.  Students in Matt Cook’s class documented work as they completed science activities.  There are many apps available that can help students learn, like Quizlet (great for vocabulary, main concepts, etc.) and Quizizz (allows continued tries at home and a game feature for in class).  It can also begin to break down some barriers that occur when trying to communicate with home.

The technology can be helpful in providing feedback – to the student and the teacher.  Student response systems were very helpful in providing such feedback to the teacher.  Teachers reported students were more engaged when they were used, but that there was a steep learning curve to the program (Kaleeta & Joosten, 2007).  However, new programs and apps like Kahoot! bring a new edge to student response systems.  The program itself is more engaging, and provides instantaneous feedback.  Lipp (2015) states, “teachers and students saw immediate feedback between questions, students hardly notice they are evaluating their own knowledge and being evaluated”.  Students need devices to participate in this activity.  Other uses for the devices:

  • Reviews/Studying
  • Information disbursement (podcasts, videos, materials)
  • Demonstration of learning (by students – provides many options)
  • Increased/enhanced communication

Planning for the use of these devices, or any technology, must be done carefully.  If not, it may not have the desired effect on student learning.  “Only when computing devices – desktops to smartphones – are used as essential tools for teaching and learning doest hat lead to increased student achievement” (Norris & Soloway, 2013). Norris and Soloway (2013) suggest that to be of value and benefit, the technology needs to be planned into the curriculum.  Technology must enhance the topic, and not just be used for the sake of using technology.

References:

Bafile, C. (2009). “Mobile technology goes to school.” Retrieved June 1, 2017 from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech248.shtml

Corbeil, J., & Valdes-Corbeil, M. (2007, January 1). Are You Ready for Mobile Learning? Retrieved June 01, 2017, from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2007/1/are-you-ready-for-mobile-learning

Kaleta, R., & Joosten, T. (2007). Student response systems: A university of Wisconsin system study of clickers. Educause Center for Applied Research, 2007(10). Retrieved June 1, 2017.

Lipp, G. (2015, July 2).  Kahoot! as formative assessment [Blog Post].  Retrieved from:  https://cit.duke.edu/blog/2015/07/kahoot-as-formative-assessment/

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2013, april 17). To see increases in student achievement in 1:!/BYOD classrooms teachers must be given curriculum with technology activities baked in [Blog Post].  Retrieved from:  https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/04/17/curriculum.aspx

 

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Web 2.0

Discovery Education compiled a list of Web 2.0 tools, and categorized them by their what they may help accomplish in education.  Going through the list of tools available, some commonalities seem to appear.  The largest thing that stands out is that all of the tools presented allow for collaboration and sharing of ideas.  This broadens the scope of what is available to students, and more importantly, how and when they access materials.

The grouping of the tools on the site is actually beneficial.  When selecting what tool to use, the end goal needs to be considered.  What is the product? Is it a presentation or a podcast?  This will result in the use of different tools.  Keep in mind that the biggest commonality is the expansion of the potential audience, and in my experience this has lead to a change in the quality of work created by students.

When selecting a tool for use in the classroom, I would consider a few things.  The first criteria would be the students themselves – is student information protected, what are the privacy policies in place.  Also, how can the students create accounts.  Do they need a new account (another username and password) or can they use their school Google credentials?  The second consideration would be ease of use.  Is the program user friendly enough so that the students can spend more time on the creative process than they do on learning the tool?  The same thought process applies to the teacher aspect.  Thirdly, what is the audience?  Do my students have the ability to experience a larger reach for a potential audience?  Hopefully, the tool that is selected will allow students to begin engaging the learning process in a manner that expands the potential, as well as the confining walls, of a traditional classroom.

References:

Tag Cloud with Wordle.net” by Luc Legacy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Social Bookmarking

Bookmarking is something that I have done on many occasions.  I have seen many colleagues do so as well.  However, the lists can become quite cumbersome, and at times, I don’t even remember why I bookmarked a site in the first place.  Social bookmarking could redefine how sites are bookmarked.  Educase (2005), defines social bookmarking as “the practice of saving bookmarks to a public web site and ‘tagging’ them with keywords”.  It’s the last part of the definition that is appealing about social bookmarking.

In my arena of education, I am always searching for new information on ideas to help my colleagues become better at their craft.  Not only can I bookmark the sites that I find, I can tag them with keywords so I remember what they are about, for example, close reading.  Also, since they are public, the sites that I bookmark can be shared with my colleagues so they can read the information.  The concept of sharing bookmarks in this manner fits right into the idea of professional learning networks, or PLNs.  Maloy, Verock, Edwards & Woolf (2016), define a PLN as “an anywhere, anytime source of ideas and information that supports and expands your work” (p. 19).  In addition to the PLN, teachers can begin to change practices with students.

Writing was a big initiative in my district as a teacher.  Teachers might have students curate their own lists of resources used, and share it within a group created for the class.  Using a predefined tag, and the group, teachers could easily verify their students sources.  Teachers could be the curator as well.  Thinking back on an assignment in my science class, students needed to read articles throughout the year.  These lists could be curated by the teacher on those different topics.  Students could then pick from what they wanted to read from the list.  It also allows the “teachable moments” to remain accessible, and more importantly, easy to find when needed again.  Keeping with the research idea, students could extend their learning by searching for other ideas and topics that they may come across in their reading and research.

It wouldn’t take much to begin using social bookmarking.  Once the site you wish to use is identified, and an account created, it becomes easy to start.  Keep in mind ease of the bookmarking, many sites like Diigo offer a web extension to make your curation easy.  Getting more teachers to use it will take some work.  Coming from the classroom myself, I am aware of the many tasks that consume the day.  Leading by example will help stimulate some teachers into using the idea, however, for others it may take modeling of an assignment to see the value, and ease, in using social bookmarking.

One thing to keep in mind when searching the social bookmarking sites for ideas – there is no oversight to how people curate and tag their lists and resources.  Educase (2005) states, “This could lead to inconsistent or otherwise poor use of tags”.  This could be very beneficial, as it may extend your topic into new areas.  It could also bog down a search.  Either way, you don’t really know where it can take you, so just prepare for the ride!

References:

Educase Learning Initiative.  (2005, May).  7 Things you should know about social bookmarking.  Retrieved from: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf

Malroy, R, Verock-O’Loughlin, R, Edwards, S., Woolf, B. (2016). Transforming learning with new technologies (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson. Kindle Edition.

Image by webtreats (2009) under the CC BY 2.0 license

Netiquette – How do I fair?

Netiquette – what are the rules for “acting” online?  Ronald Berk (2011) compiled a list of twelve things to keep in mind for practicing proper etiquette online.  Using his list, I put myself to the test to see how I was fairing with my netiquette skills.  So many of the things presented felt like common sense.  I was quite pleased with what I discovered.

I write emails almost everyday in my career.  Often, these emails are going to parents, and sometimes businesses that deal with the schools.  Parent’s can sometimes be happy, or be upset at something that occurred.  I try to pick my words carefully, keeping in mind that once I click send it can be used for me, or against me.  Along these communication lines, Berk offers a couple things.  First, maintain professionalism, something which I strive for because I believe that I am a professional.  Second, proofread.  I know that at times things get by me, however, I at least do it – sometimes many times.  If needed, I have asked other colleagues to proofread my work.  Also, responses should be within a day, according to Berk (2011).  This may cut down on the time you have to proofread, however, it is well worth it to complete.  Also, the time may prevent you from sending an “angry” email or communication.

As I said above, many of the twelve things that Berk mentioned in his article felt like common sense to me.  While I did not cover all of his comments in this post, the drive to be a professional kept surfacing in my mind.  I want to be viewed as such, so I will act as such, both in my physical workspace and my virtual workspace.  I have areas where I can get better, such as responding to emails within that day, but for the most part I am very satisfied with my online etiquette.

Where then, can I improve?  I viewed all twelve of the things that Berk mentioned as important beginnings to digital citizenship.  We don’t accept name calling as appropriate behavior in the building, so we won’t accept it online either.  However, we need to become better at relaying this information to students (and yes, even our colleagues).  My position allows me to work with teachers and students with technology integration.  This is a perfect forum to relay the ideals of digital citizenship to both groups.  Most importantly, I will lead by example.

Reference:

Berk, R. A. (2011). Top 12 be-attitudes of netiquette for academicians. Journal of Faculty Development, 25(3), 45-48.