Connected Educator Month Webinar Highlights: Real-Life Mobile Implementation with Learners

In the coming days and weeks PowerUp will report back to you on some of the exciting and inspiring webinars we’ve had the opportunity to attend during Connected Educators Month 2013. We aim to feature a broad range of these events to share with you in case you weren’t able to fit them all into your busy schedule. Of course, we can’t cover each and every one of these great events, so if you attended an event that you think merits reposting, please add a comment below so that we can share it! The first webinar we’d like to share comes from Educator Innovator, MobileEd.org and Connected Learning TV. The hosts—Richard Scullin, Liz Kolb, Jenna Blanton, and David Gagnon—are leaders in the field of mobile device learning and they shared their expert thoughts and opinions about how to engage students in learning with mobile devices. Specifically, the discussion was framed around this question, posited by Richard Scullin: “There is this kind of delineation, or this kind of split…between mobiles—or broadly defined, mobile learning—that is actually kind of engaging with something in the community…and then mobiles or ipads or some other kind of mobile device that is just kind of being used as a text book or as a glorified flash card…they both have uses and are both valid for learning in education, but do you see that kind of split?” The guest panelists centered their discussion around this question, eventually coming to what David Gagnon proposed as a summative resolution: "We can use the mobile device as the context for an experience--so we can use it to create some sort of rich sensory, physical experience by going into the woods and documenting plants or by reliving an historic narrative using location-based augmentive reality stuff; so having the mobile provide the experience but having all the reflection and the discussion and the meaning-making happen back in a more traditional classroom environment. And that seems to be a very promising approach right now because it doesn't fundamentally change what the teacher is doing, but it's giving [the teacher, and the students] another experience to draw on for discussion." Some of the suggestions that the panelists had surrounding mobile-device learning included:
  1. Combine applications: Since most apps primarily deal with understanding, memorizing, and application of a utility, to really transform your teaching and your students’ learning, combining multiple apps or combining apps with traditional websites can provide for a more comprehensive method (e.g. an atlas application and google maps)
  2. Try to engage the “mobile” aspect of mobile devices as fully as possible by venturing outside of the classroom and into the community. David Gagnon suggests that this is essential and backed it up with research on place-based learning by Smith and Sobel (2010) that correlates engaging with the community with better learners, who have a greater sense of agency, ownership, and a desire to get involved.
Alongside the broader debate about how to achieve effective mobile-device learning, the panelists suggested three resources that could be useful for teachers seeking to venture into this arena of connected learning:
  1. ARIS – This is an application, developed by David Gagnon at the University of Wisconsin, Madison that can be used on mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android Devices, which allows the user to play—and even develop—mobile learning games. Examples include historical scavenger hunts, scientific field research and data collection, and amateur journalism.
  2. OpenPath – An application, like ARIS, that allows for what the panelists referred to as geo-locative learning. The application maps out where the user has traveled and allows for integration of information with those geo-locative data points. Again, the user can use this at its most basic level or engage with it flexibly to create a unique project.
  3. From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning – A blog created by Liz Kolb, which regularly reviews mobile applications that teacher can use to enhance instruction, assessment, and parent-student-teacher relations.
These are just some of the possibilities that mobile-device learning holds for transforming traditional classroom-based education. As technology advances and as more teachers and school leaders get involved, the limits are sure to be pushed even further. If your school is interested in developing its mobile devices plan, be sure to take a look at PowerUp’s Technology Implementation Practice Guide for insight into how to navigate the necessary action steps and the array of options involved.  Have you engaged with your students in mobile-device learning? Let us know by leaving a comment below and check back soon for more in this series of posts about the best and brightest ideas from CEM 2013! Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Michael McGarrah for helping to compile this post. 

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