How do you use mobile devices in the classroom? Tips, apps & best practices #ELTchat Summary 30/04/2011
ELT Chat Summary – 30th April
This was the initial question for the evening’s discussion, although there was some debate about the definition of mobile devices. Some people suggested digital cameras, laptops, tablets – there are also dictophones and digital video cameras. This definition question was never really concluded but the focus eventually headed towards mobile phones and smartphones. I think there was some overlap with the recent topic ‘How do we cater for the needs of our learners in a digital age?’
Uses of mobile phones for the classroom eventually became the main focus, although I felt that the chat roamed around a number of areas, including the possibilities for use, teachers’ feelings, issues and potential problems and useful apps. As a result, I’m going to attack the summary from four different angles and then I’ll present a list of useful links that were shared during the chat.
I would like to point out that I was asked, ever so politely, to do this summary because of my summarising tweet…
…and I think it’s really important that these things are kept in mind whenever choosing technologies to use. To be honest I was surprised to be asked due to my obvious skepticism and critical stance during the chat. But, hey, I think the technovangelists need to keep at least some toes clinging to terra firma! ; ) Having done this summary and had some chance to reflect, I really can see some great potential for some of the apps and tools mentioned, but I do have some of the issues being a problem when I consider the contexts in which I have experience.
[Critical Ed. btw I think it’s worth pointing out that a few pro-technology participants do not actually seem to have any connection to ELT, but have some investment in technology.]
1) Why bother?
2) What can be done?
3) What could possibly go wrong?
4) What can be done to overcome issues?
1) Why bother?
@Shaunwilden : How do we feel about using them? I’d say why not we use them in life, well I do all the time
@ShellTerrell : Mobile phones allow students to carry the learning in their pocket & study when convenient, 5 min on bus, while in line, etc
@ShellTerrell : I believe it’s portable, involves learning anywhere anytime, & involves the learning taking charge of the content
• In some places most people have a smartphone and use it regularly
• In some places more people have smartphones than computers
• In some places it seems that every adult and every child has a smartphone
• There is a lot of potential for extra practice with a one to one student
• Using this technology could be motivating
• Many students try to use them in class anyway, why not allow it?
• Students could be more autonomous if guided to use mobile technology
• Smartphones can do loads of clever multi-media things
2) What can we do?
@ShellTerrell : Best ways to use mobile phones for language learning involves audio/image/video recording, & sms features common to most phones now
• Use dictionary apps, such as SnaPanda for Android
• Phones can be used to take photos or video for a scavenger hunt activity
• Take photos of the whiteboard
• Text students information (or receive it from them) about class or news about practical stuff like lesson cancellations or room changes
• Get ss to take photos of stuff for hwk, bring to class, show them to a partner and chat about them
• Create QR codes of things you want students to find on scavenging using mobile devices
• Use mobile phone to record/ video the ss speaking and they can listen to themselves
• Use of the audio or video recording devices could overcome a school’s lack of resources
• Adult learners could use language podcasts, record themselves, create videos, use search functions & dictionaries
• Students can watch videos, perhaps from youtube
• Use these apps with young learners – StoryRobe, StoryKit, Talking Tom, Mouthoff, Pubppet Pals, Sticki booth, Fotobabble, Animoto, Audioboo, Woices, 43 Things – see links below
• Use fotobabble to take a picture and record audio talking about it
• Students can share music with the teacher to be played in class
• The technology can be used anywhere, so leave the classroom and go somewhere else!
• Use Newsy app & Video Vocab apps for Business English
3) So what’s the catch?
@efl101 : problem is not all sts have smart phones so fairness/equal access issues arise
• Some schools have banned them – in some countries phones in school are a big NO!
• In some countries smartphones are not used by most students
• If some students have them and others don’t there could be issues causing negative feelings or behaviour
• Smartphones can sometimes be a distraction as much as a learning aid
• Students could use them to cheat in tests
• There could be problems with ss feeling inadequate for not having the ‘right’ phone
• Ss could start thinking they can use the phone all the time, not just when you want them to
• Not so good for exam classes – ss can’t use them in exams and shouldn’t rely on them
• Kids could start begging their parents for a phone when the parents can’t afford one or don’t feel that it’s appropriate
• It might take time for some students to learn how to use their phone in different ways
• The teacher may have to teach how to use an app
• Sometimes it’s a problem getting students off the phone, no need to encourage them!
• Do the phones have roaming internet access or would access to school wifi be needed?
• What about the financial cost to the students of internet access and SMS?
• Teachers don’t know what to do with mobile phones
• Many teachers don’t even use much technology
• Is it ok for teachers to expect student to be connected to learning all the time?
• Training opportunities for teachers may never arrive
• Can teachers actually afford to own good quality mobile phones?
• Many teachers don’t even use computers very much, let alone smartphones
4) Responses to issues
• If parents have issues, invite them into school and do a show and tell to explain the benefits
• If not all students have one, get them to share or work in groups
• Students sharing devices could help YLs develop better collaborative skills
• Using a contract phone should mean there is no cost to the learners and apparently ‘mini top-ups [are] now given away with soda cans’
• Teacher training courses – there’s one online soon, see links
• Don’t wait for training, just dive on in and try it out
• Huddle round phones in groups if necessary
Some different viewpoints
@ShellTerrell : Also mobile learning allows the learner to apply the language & vocabulary in a contextual setting & with others. Authentic!
@familysimpson : @efl101 how do your students learn? Individually or by discussing in a group? Mobile opens up discussion to all – confidence booster
@rliberni : key to efficacy or not of mlearning is whether or not they are learning – having fun is good but learning must also take place
@AnthonyGaughan …reluctance to use private resource for work.. which schools provide mobile devices for staff?
@rliberni : mine prefer time away from their laptop – ‘an oasis of calm’ one std called his English lesson
SnaPanda – wonderfully innovative dictionary app
QR Codes – barcode thing
Free ‘about mlearning‘ course taking place in april?
Great video of using speak & repeat apps with kids learning Chinese here: http://www.technolote.com/?p=946
Ok, there you go. I hope I’ve managed to cover everything satisfactorily and give a balanced review of the chat transcript. Thanks to all participants for another really interesting #eltchat!
A little comedy to finish off