Sunday, October 14, 2012

Doing new things in new ways

I think one of the things I feel most strongly about with technology in education, is that if all we are doing is using it as a substitution, to do old things in new ways, then we are really missing the entire potential that technology has to transform learning.  When I hear statements from some educators in other schools such as "there is no evidence that technology improves learning", it only reinforces my belief that these educators are using technology in old ways, that they are still thinking of technology as a tool (not even as a toolkit).

One of the joys of working in my current position is that as part of the R&D core team we are looking at many different emerging technologies and investigating the impact they can have on teaching and learning.   If students are going to be bringing in their own secondary devices, for example, then it is up to us to consider the changes to teaching that must take place to fully harness the benefits of these devices for student learning.  We are not like some schools that make decisions on what hardware to purchase, throw it into the classrooms and then pat themselves on the back believing that their job is done and that somehow the technology in itself is enough.  We know that we must very carefully consider the pedagogy, and give teachers the time and support they need to develop the pedagogy, to use these mobile devices in the best ways possible.

Our recent survey of elementary teachers has shown that they are already using their smartphones in many different ways:  they are using them as calendars, notepads, calculators, timers, alarms, voice recorders, MP3 players, still and video cameras, messengers, to surf the internet and (sometimes) as a phone.  As they are already comfortable with using their phones for all these things, it seems that they would also be comfortable in introducing activities to their students who also bring in their phones.  For example they could have students do old things in new ways, such as recording their homework assignments on the calendars on their phones rather than in an agenda or taking notes on their phones rather than on paper, but they could also do new things in new ways too.  For example they could have students listen to audio books and podcasts, record their reading or record interviews with others, use them as a polling device, use them for flashcard reviews for new vocabulary in the language lessons, create photo stories, use them for data collection, use them for watching videos or playing educational games.

Our aim this year is personalized learning.  All of us have our preferences as to how we learn best.  Kipp D. Rogers outlines some of the many benefits of mobile learning in his book Mobile Learning Devices:

  • varied learning conditions - students can master skills at their own pace and in places where they are most comfortable
  • collaboration - mobile learning is often combined with group activities and promotes students working collaboratively
  • day to day learning - with 24/7 access to information
  • instant feedback on writing, videos, music and art that students are creating so that students can improve on their performance
  • authenticity - real and relevant experiences on the students' own mobile devices where they can multitask and network with others
Photo Credit:  Rubic Apps by Cesar Poyatas, 2011  AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

No comments:

Post a Comment