Monday, April 12, 2010

Mobile Phones, Best Supporting Actor of Instruction

And the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor goes to...

We are preparing for a mobile learning project involving smartphones with two seventh grade English classes at my school. Today it took about 45 minutes of collaborating with the two English teachers (Rock Stars), our Reading Specialist and our Technology Integration Specialist to brainstorm activities for an entire unit using the graphic novel, Maus. Together we decided on activities that involved polling, blogging, google presentation and forms, creating podcasts, photostories, PSAs, digital story telling, posting to a social network, commenting/critiquing, back channeling and interviewing. All these activities were to be completed using literature circles, DRTA strategies, small groups, checking for understanding, rubrics and differentiated instruction.

The beauty of the 45 minute planning session was that during the conversation, the smartphone did not upstage sound instructional practice. In fact, if I could have obtained a transcript of the planning session and Wordled it, the words summarize, create and contrast would probably be the larger words in display.

As we plan on integrating mobile learning with instruction, mobile phones (or technology in general) should not be the lead actor in the movie. They should be supporting actors--of good instruction.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mobile Media Revolution by 2020?!

I came across this video last summer and found it interesting--and scary at the same time. I usually show it when I give presentations about mobile learning. It really makes you think about the future. As I watched the video again just before this post, several questions came to mind:
  1. Where are we headed with Mobile Media/Learning? Is the iPad a beginning or a continuation?
  2. Why are we so afraid of the unknown when it comes to mobile technology in general and specifically in education?
  3. How will we address mobile safety as a society (this has got to be one of the 21st century careers that has yet to be created)?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting Started with Using Cell Phones in Class

The hardest part (for adults) of using cell phones for instruction is getting started. So here are some tips:

1. Generate excitement. Survey your students to see who has a phone, what type they have and to get an idea of their plans (lots of students don't know what their plans are).

2. Spend a good amount of time discussing digital safety and digital footprints. Have the class come up with an acceptable use policy. The policy should be signed by the student, the teacher and a parent.

3. Do simple activities first. Try using the calculator in math, stopwatch or the calendar function (as an agenda/organizer).

4. Consider access. Create activities that involve students working in groups of two or three. Doing so minimizes creating the "haves and have nots."

5. If you are not comfortable having students using cell phones in the classroom, have students use them outside of class--in conjunction with homework assignments.

What are you waiting for?