Mobile tech offers potential for formative assessment, authentic learning

Mobile learning has potential for continuous assessment, ‘out-of-the-box’ instruction

mobile-potentialPolicy makers and educators should not ignore the fact that mobile technology holds great potential for student engagement, continuous formative assessment, and authentic learning experiences, according to speakers during a Brookings Institution panel on mobile learning.

During opening remarks, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president at Qualcomm Technologies and president of Global Market Development, noted that e-Rate reform should include an emphasis on mobile learning’s potential to transform brick-and-mortar school walls into virtual walls. Learning is 24/7, and the e-Rate should reflect that change, as well as mobile technology’s role.

“We can’t continue to education students by ignoring the technology that is essential to our lives,” she said.

One of the most likely things to limit mobile learning’s potential is the “old wine in new bottles,” phenomenon, said panelist Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor, Learning Technologies, at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. He added that the hardest thing about mobile learning is the “unlearning” of old strategies or methods that are now outdated and that hinder learning as it occurs in today’s world.

But educators and policy makers who are seeking to harness mobile’s potential should begin by defining the problem or problems they want to address, and then find the technology and skills to fix those problems. They should ask: “Does mobile technology give us new ways to address these problems?”

“We can’t possibly prepare students for the 21st century with the classrooms we have now,” Dede said.

There are concerns that accompany the transformative potential of mobile learning, said Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. These include equity, ensuring authentic experiences, and arming teachers with positive preparation.

“We are always imagining solutions for teachers without engaging teachers,” she said.

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Laura Ascione

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