Tips and success stories for effective mobile learning

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
January 7th, 2012

Good mobile learning programs focus on learning, and not just devices, the report notes.

More and more schools are using mobile learning devices to help boost student engagement and achievement, and a new monograph from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) examines some of the best practices in mobile devices from schools across the nation.

“Small Size, Big Potential: Mobile Learning Devices in School,” the third and final component from CoSN’s 2011 Compendium, profiles Oregon’s Canby School District, Chicago Public Schools, Katy Independent School District in Texas, Minnesota’s Osseo School District, and Ohio’s St. Mary’s City Schools.

The school districts share their experiences with one-to-one computing implementations, launching “bring your own device” programs, and overcoming obstacles such as budget constraints.

“From smart phones to tablets, mobile devices are changing the traditional methods of K-12 teaching and learning, offering schools advanced, affordable solutions toward creating a more collaborative, engaging and personalized learning environment,” said Lucy Gray, project director of CoSN’s Leadership for Mobile Learning Initiative and author of the monograph. “Schools embracing these technologies are helping to shape 21st century classrooms and are paving the way for other districts by documenting their best practices and maintaining an open dialogue on how to implement robust, successful mobile learning programs.”

For more on mobile learning, see:

Education’s Guide to Mobile Learning Devices

Mobile learning: Not just laptops any more

Educators and students have a number of options when it comes to mobile learning devices, including laptops, netbooks, tablets, eReaders, and smart phones. According to the monograph, laptops and netbooks maintain a large presence in one-to-one computing programs, but many schools are opting to use smart phones or tablets when they launch new mobile pilots.

“Bring your own device” (BYOD) pilots also are gaining steam, with more schools realizing the benefits to be had when students bring their own technology tools–especially in tough budget times.

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2 Responses to “Tips and success stories for effective mobile learning”

January 8, 2012

I do believe that the best of the newest technology can motivate and enhance a student’s learning. Teachers must choose the programs and apps carefully to make sure that the content is rigorous as well as scaffolded. Young students need a variety of math programs to practice their skills, but they also need challenging programs to further their critical thinking skills. The latter needs some good producers. When my son was young, there were dozens of critical thinking math programs for the computer.

Reading programs and apps are in abundance. Starfall Reading, a free program to teachers is one of the best beginning reading programs. Raz-for-Kids is one of the best programs for finding leveled reading, both fiction and non-fiction for kids, that include some very good “worksheets” that teachers can use that align with the Common Core Standards.

I would like to see programs focus on global reads, integrated with the best of literacy comprehension and critical thinking skills. This is a challenge to anyone out there.

The Town of Arlington is presently building an elementary school where every child will have an i-pad, and imbedded software that will enhance learning skills across the curriculum.

When I worked in Brookline, I had my own in-focus machine and I used it every day to project books to “Big Books” for whole class reading instruction. I had hundreds of “favorites” of You-Tube videos that supplemented the visuals that children need to see before they read in science and social studies.

In China, every classroom teacher has an ELMO to deliver classroom instruction in math and literacy. Whole articles can be displayed for all to see and discuss. Isn’t this the way to teach more rigorous critical thinking when it comes to informative texts?

When I taught, I had a weekly blog for parents that included my classroom activities and rationale for teaching integrated subjects, including a weekly slideshow that captured the words in visuals. Working parents appreciated being “flies on the walls” to see just what their children were learning. I would also include in the blog questions that parents could ask their children over dinner that weren’t as broad as “How was your day? What did you learn today?”

Teachers must not forget that “Final Exhibitions” are critical for students to synthesize what they know to create interesting projects using 2.0 Webtools such as Glogster and Voicethread. These programs need to be made easier for young children to use as well.

Using technology wisely is what all students need to communicate to parents and complement and enrich all curriculum to enhance their thinking.