Four tips to manage mobile classrooms

Promoting access while maintaining student safety can prove challenging for educators

mobile-managementAs classrooms change with the evolution of mobile technology, classroom management strategies must adjust to walk the line between keeping students on task and giving students freedom to use their mobile devices for learning.

Focusing on four classroom management components may help educators as they strive to incorporate mobile devices into teaching and learning while meeting the challenge of minimizing device distractions.

During an Oct. 6 Connected Educator Month webinar, East Central University Assistant Professor Mark Jones and Instructor Toni Jones offered tips and advice for managing classrooms that are increasingly mobile.

(Next page: The four classroom management strategies)

A 2013 Pew Research Center study on how teachers use technology at home and in the classroom reveals that 73 percent of teachers surveyed said they allow mobile devices to be used for learning, while 71 percent of teachers said classroom management of those digital devices is a challenge.

Educator concerns surrounding mobile device management include keeping students on task, troubleshooting, managing multiple platforms under BYOD, and security.

During the webinar, Mark Jones outlined four main components of mobile classroom management, which he based on four management principles outlined by Patricia Kyle and Lawrence Rogien. Those components are effective teaching, a preventive component, the corrective component, and a supportive component.

“These models aren’t new, but we have to adapt and try them, and apply them to this brave new world of mobile learning or one-to-one environments, where all students are holding powerful devices,” he said.

Effective teaching

“If we don’t have good instructional design, then we’re just really asking to have issues in our classrooms,” he said.

Educators should determine how they can leverage their district’s LMS tools to support on-task mobile device uses.

This might include a way to limit students to certain sites or tools at specific times. It also could involve identifying shortcuts that help students use their devices in the most efficient manner possible in order to avoid losing instructional time.

An instructor’s technology know-how is important, too, because when educators are comfortable using technology, they can take advantage of the power those tools have to offer, and they will likely be more adept at incorporating tech tools into their instruction in a way that engages students and maximizes learning potential.

Preventive component

To prevent off-task use, educators must develop a clear system of what students can and can’t do during certain times. One approach might involve a device usage signaling system. For instance, an educator uses certain colors or flags to indicate when devices are in use or when they must be put down or put away.

An assigned “device parking location” is another approach—educators can look for devices in a certain spot on students’ desks, or can use an over-the-door shoe rack labeled with students’ names to store devices when they are not being used.

When devices are in use, having clearly-defined activities that don’t give students an opportunity to open off-task apps is one approach to keeping students inside the assigned app or activity.

Educators should become familiar with “red flag” postures that signal students may be using their devices for off-task purposes or during a time when attention should be on the instructor and not on the device.

[Editor’s note: Find information on Kyle and Rogien’s preventive component here.]

Corrective component

This component must incorporate accountability measures, Jones said—educators need a plan in place for what will happen when students violate device use policies.

“Have clear documentation of when these behaviors happen so you can establish a pattern,” he said.

Educators are divided when it comes to taking away a student’s device as a punishment for off-task activities, with many saying they prefer not to take away a student’s learning tool.

“There are many things to consider if you do take an approach where you take a student’s device,” Jones said. “Obviously, you need a Plan B, because the student still has to be able to complete the learning activity in another format.”

[Editor’s note: Find information on Kyle and Rogien’s corrective component here.]

Supportive component

Digital citizenship plays a large role in supporting classroom management strategies, said Toni Jones.

“This teaches students the habits and behaviors they need to exhibit in their careers as they get older,” she said. “Digital citizenship isn’t something that should be handed to one single person, like a computer lab monitor.”

In fact, digital citizenship should exist in every area of instruction, including school technology plans, and should involve stakeholder support.

For example, art teachers can teach about copyright during lessons, Jones said, and students can learn about appropriate behaviors and responsibilities in any class where they use technology and interact online.

“Students need to see it integrated throughout the entire school—otherwise, they won’t understand why it’s so important,” she said.

[Editor’s note: Find information on Kyle and Rogien’s supportive component here.]

Sign up for our K-12 newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Laura Ascione
Latest posts by Laura Ascione (see all)

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at

New Resource Center
Explore the latest information we’ve curated to help educators understand and embrace the ever-evolving science of reading.
Get Free Access Today!

"*" indicates required fields

Email Newsletters:

By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

eSchool News uses cookies to improve your experience. Visit our Privacy Policy for more information.