Why Mobile Technology Enhances Instruction
As mobile technology continues to steal the spotlight in K-12 classroom methodology, certain areas of study tend to be gravitating towards the trends more strongly. Last week an Education Market Research report found that 28 percent of class time for math-based courses is spent using digital tools or interacting with digital content. The report goes on to outline a strong shift towards digital teaching methods for math since 2009. While students' positive response is one of the reasons mobile technology is rapidly gaining speed, EMR's report says that educator enjoyment of the technology is also a contributing factor to its snowballing implementation.
The conversation about the benefits of mobile technology for students is constant but should there also be a discussion about educator preference? It seems the debate is always student-centric but for these students to excel, teachers need to thrive too. This means administrative plans beyond simply purchasing mobile devices, or implementing bring-your-device policies, that include teacher empowerment of the technology.
Mobile technology has potential to change the student-teacher dynamic for the better but only if implemented correctly. Here are a few ways I think all teachers can benefit from smart mobile technology use:
• Higher engagement levels. At least at the outset, use of mobile technology in K-12 classrooms will mean more students are interested in the class material. It remains to be seen what will happen once the novelty effect wears off, but perhaps by then mobile learning will be even more advanced than it is today, capturing students' attention in new ways. Part of the interest in mobile learning from students' perspectives is the flashy, fun element but the bigger attraction is empowerment. Lessons leave the blackboard and take place at the desk, giving students more control over it. Higher engagement from K-12 students who use mobile technology is a direct result of a feeling of ownership on the part of the student, whether perceived or not.
• Convenient progress tracking. Mobile education applications keep electronic records of where students succeed and where they need more help. This provides a great service to teachers who lack the time and resources to create customized learning plans based on student work profiles (though there are certainly some teachers who do put in this time, painstakingly). When students learn through mobile technology, teachers benefit from the convenient reporting. There is no guesswork on what skills need sharpening, particularly in areas like math. If an entire class population is struggling with a skill, the technology reporting signals to the teacher that the topic needs to be revisited. On the flip side, excess time is not spent on topic areas that are already learned.
• Less paperwork. Mobile learning gives copy machines a break and amounts to less paperwork for teachers. Instead of students waiting for an in-class assignment to be graded and then redone, mobile applications allow immediate opportunities to try again. This is a practical perk of mobile learning but one that makes the teaching AND learning process less cumbersome. In addition to less loose papers, mobile technology limits the amount of textbooks and other hard class materials that need to be carried around and stored in classrooms.
Anything that makes educators' jobs a little easier, without sacrificing student achievement, benefits K-12 learning as a whole. The discussion of mobile technology in classrooms as it relates to students is vital but the teaching aspect matters a lot too. Schools need to provide resources for teachers to feel comfortable teaching though in mobile technology formats. This needs to happen in order for educators to really notice the positive impact it makes on their jobs.
In what ways will mobile technology positively change the teaching profession?
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