Student using cell phone.

Mobile Technologies to Support Student Learning

Author: Samantha Goldman;

Teachers, principals, and school districts have been battling cell phones and other mobile technologies (remember pagers?) in the classroom for nearly two decades. Reasons cited as to why these devices should be banned from the classroom include cheating, bullying, and illegal/ illicit activities. But, in the digital age, where students entering the workforce are expected to understand basic technology and how to leverage it to maximize productivity and creativity, shouldn’t those in education be looking for ways to leverage mobile devices to support student learning? In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which recent literature proposes mobile devices can be used in K-12 classrooms and make suggestions as to how these can transfer to higher education.

Project-Based Learning

Defined as a student-centered method of instruction where students are actively involved in goal setting and the learning process, Project-Based Learning (PBL) efforts are enriched when combined with technology. A recent study involving 12th graders with disabilities who were learning about self-determination and having an impact on their community explored the use of Esri’s Field Maps as a tool to support their goal of bringing awareness to the garbage around campus and their greater community. The use of the mobile application allowed students to collect and analyze data regarding the trash they found on campus. 

Bringing projects such as this one into the higher education classroom could be as simple as discussing the standard-alignment to science and math standards focused on data collection, mapping, and data analysis. Other possibilities include modeling a similar project with pre-service teachers to show them how PBL units are designed, and aligned to learning goals, and the various successes and challenges that may arise.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is a combination of real and digital content that creates digital layers (this could be video, audio, text, 3d models, etc.) over the current environment using a mobile device camera, and app. There are multiple apps available to be used in conjunction with mobile devices to bring AR into the classroom including Adobe Aero, Google Maps AR, and AR Flashcards. In a recent Technology in Action piece, Carreon and colleagues explored the use of AR in the classroom to make the environment more interactive. Suggested uses for AR included adding multi-media supports to help students navigate the school campus (when to turn, which direction to turn, etc.), creating interactive word walls where students can receive support not only in decoding words but in also seeing visual representations of the word, and through the creation of interactive notes where teachers could layer video explanations on top of markers within the notes. 

The possibilities of AR’s support to students with disabilities are nearly endless. Teacher educators can embed suggested ways to use AR in the content area, math, and literacy-specific courses by providing pre-service teachers the opportunity to explore and engage with these technologies as well as encourage their use in student-submitted lesson plans. 

Join the Conversation

How are you encouraging the use of AR in your pre-service teacher coursework? What are your favorite apps to use to make the learning environment more interactive? We would love for you to join the conversation happening in our community