Mobile tech offers potential for formative assessment, authentic learning

But when it comes to mobile learning’s potential, “one of the critical issues is that of culture,” Malcom said. “I’m not sure we are, because quite frankly, principals are still basically making judgments about teachers’ work in the classroom based on old standards,” including whether a teacher is lecturing to the class and whether students are seated and quiet.

“Culture has to shift in order to allow the plane to take off,” she added.

“We are preparing kids for careers that don’t exist yet,” said S. Dallas Dance, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). “The way we deliver and write our curricula has to change.”

Children have to learn critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration skills in order to be successful in college and careers, and mobile technologies have potential to help educators personalize learning and help children nurture those skills.

“We talk about this whole notion around personalized learning–there’s no way you can personalize learning for a student when a teacher has 25-30 students, unless you leverage technology to do that work,” Dance said.

BCPS has a one-to-one plan in place, but the district has not even started to think about purchasing devices, Dance said.

“We said, ‘We’re not going to go out there and purchase devices.’ Even if I had the money to do that, I wouldn’t take that route. In order to make sure it’s meaningful and sustainable, you have to fundamentally change your curriculum–we’re starting with our curriculum first,” he said, adding that the Common Core standards offer a perfect time to revamp curriculum. Infrastructure and budget restructuring also are key priorities on the path to realizing mobile learning’s potential.

“We have to create a culture and environment where teachers feel protected to think outside the box,” Dance said.

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(Next page: What a second panel had to say about implementation)

Laura Ascione

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