School is back in session, and from all the parents I’ve talked to, there’s been a new addition to the old school essentials list -- notebook, lunch and now, a smartphone. We’ve reached a time where mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are entering classrooms at an accelerated rate. In fact, recent numbers in Canada showed that the back to school season is starting to rival the holiday season for buying cellphones.
In 2011, we asked nearly 3,000 college students and young professionals how fundamental they feel the Internet is. An astounding one in three respondents equated the Web’s importance with air, water, food and shelter. It’s safe to assume the younger set feels the same: Research conducted by Project Tomorrow found that from 2009 to 2010 smartphone use for middle and high school students jumped 42 percent, so younger student are obviously adapting early expectations of anywhere, anytime online access.
If schoolchildren are using mobile devices on their own time to connect with parents and friends, it makes sense for schools to be working these devices into the learning mix, too. In fact, according to The Journal’s Mary McCaffrey, schools must go mobile to better personalize their students’ learning experiences.
Here are three ways mobile collaboration contributes to the learning environment:
- Teach and learn anywhere, anytime: Classrooms use video in many ways to enhance learning, but taking that video mobile opens even more doors. Students can review archived lectures anytime, whether at home on their laptops as they do their homework or on their smartphones on the way to soccer practice. These “portable” lessons give students flexibility in terms of scheduling their after-school lives, and they let students go more deeply into the material by revisiting it on their own time. Likewise, teachers can facilitate virtual review sessions before tests, post supplemental materials for students to access on phones or tablets, and open online discussion forums to which students can post from wherever they are, whenever a relevant thought or question crosses their minds.
- Collaborate with teachers and peers: With mobile, students who think of questions after class ends are no longer out of luck. Mobile connectivity through tools like Cisco Jabber lets students instant message instructors or classmates, share their desktops and other content, including video, as well as setup conferences—all helpful tools for working together on group projects.
- Mobile textbooks: Moving printed content to digital devices such as tablets and smartphones reduces costs for schools, leaving more money in budgets for other resources. It also enables immediate content updates and interactive learning, doing away with the problem of outdated, boring learning materials.
Has your school realized other benefits of going mobile? If so, please share -- I’m always interested in ways schools are benefiting from technology, especially video.