I’ve long been an advocate of using mobile’s and other devices in the classroom. They are so much more than just phones and our students commonly use them for all of their other functionality.
I’m currently working in a school where mobiles are not banned – except in clasrooms. This means that I can expect my students to have mobiles on them and I have had a number of opportunities to use them in lessons. Firstly I’m teaching video editing to three different year groups. Our department doesn’t have a camera! There are a couple of cameras that can be borrowed from elsewhere but seriously what is the point when the students all have one in their pocket. Not only do they have one, its one they are familiar with using and that they understand. Our only difficulty is downloading the filmed material – I’ve been telling the students to do it at home and put it on Dropbox – unless they have an iPhone as I have a cable for mine. Actually the students can’t download their own footage anyway – the school system doesn’t let them on a student account.
I’ve also had some fun with year 9 and QR codes, I’ve had them download readers and they’ve been creating codes for eath other to try out – they’ve loved these lessons.
My most positive experience was at Easter School though – I ran a 4 day enterprise project in the Easter holidays. It was for year 9 students and for most of the time they were working independently in groups. I allowed them to have their phones out and on throughout. Not one student took a call, I saw some texting/messaging going on but it didn’t detract from the lesson with the exception of one girl who was sending messages across the room and giggling. Actually she greatly reminded me of a sixth former I taught a few years ago that did the same thing! The rest of the time I saw mobiles being used productively – students using the calculator or looking things up (rather than using the school laptops!). Students sending each other emails about their work (Hotmail doesn’t work on our system!). One used her mobile to set up a Facebook page to promote their enterprise (Facebook is of course banned).
I even had a chat to a couple of the boys about how they are using their phones for education. One showed me his timetable, another showed me the notes he makes about his homework and how he marks off when it is completed. Both commendable uses of the device. I’d like to run a survey of the entire school asking how everyone uses them – something I intend to ask about soon.
Its time to ban the word “phone” and start calling it something else. Mobile Learning Device…..Pocket computer….Personal Pocket computer….