The Mobile Revolution Has Reached The Classroom

Can you recall the last time you went through a day without using a phone or computer? Personally, I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere without my phone. Heck, if there’s an issue with my phone or it’s out of battery, everything else is put on hold until my device is back up and running. Smartphones have become so much more than just a means of communication. They are our calendars, wallets, bank portals, calculators, even navigation devices. They keep us connected to our families, no matter the distance between us, and they allow us to access any information in the world in seconds. We have passed the tipping point. A mobile world is here and will only continue to grow.

In education, however, the mobile revolution has not yet reached its tipping point. In fact, it often feels like education is the staunch defender of the paper based world we grew up in. Recently, a colleague of mine attended a presentation at a conference for career education. The speaker made a statement about not allowing mobile devices in the classroom, and the audience applauded him. It’s worth mentioning that the people in the room were mainly owners and decision makers from schools around the country. When my colleague told me about the crowd’s response, I was surprised by their reaction. It made me wonder how a group that has undoubtedly felt a positive personal impact from increased mobile technology in their lives could applaud barring the same technology from learning environments, in spite of the positive potential it carries.

Mobile Tech Is Already In Class

Still, in our mobile world, it’s inevitable that students will be inclined to use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops in class. Ryan Seilhamer, program director of mobile strategy and innovation at the University of Central Florida, notes that “students are using mobile even if you aren’t.” This reflects what I experienced almost daily during my four years at UC San Diego. Plenty of my professors requested that students refrain from using devices openly in class, yet I could see everyone around me using their phone or even blatantly ignoring the professor and having their laptop out in front of them. Many of my classmates, however, were looking up a definition or further researching the topic of discussion, using their mobile devices to get information as opposed to raising their hand and disrupting the lecture to have their question answered.

Learn how to more effectively evaluate students through real-time polls, assessments, chats, and more.

In order to keep up with the times, schools need to embrace the mobile wave and understand how to use it to their advantage. Yet, there are still organizations reluctant to embrace mobile devices in the classroom. Some of the reasons I’ve heard include that devices are distracting to those using them and to those around them, school owners and instructors fear that they don’t have as much experience with mobile devices as students do, and that it’s a daunting task for schools to educate themselves on the plethora of mobile learning options popping up. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that instructors don’t want to relinquish control over the learning environment. The easiest way for them to maintain control is to stick to their current processes of manual data entry and physical sheets that can’t malfunction or be hacked into.

Flip The Script

Fortunately, embracing mobile devices in the classroom doesn’t have to be accompanied by an overhaul of existing processes. But it is a critical step that schools need to take in order to improve the educational experience they deliver. And the benefits are significant for the students, instructors, and schools.

Clearly, students will bring their mobile devices to class and use them during instruction, even when asked not to. The answer is not for instructors to ban mobile devices altogether. Prohibiting the use of mobile devices fosters a divide between instructors and students. Instead, instructors should flip the script and leverage students’ devices to engage them with the course material! Students will still have their phones, tablets, and laptops out, but they will be using them to participate in the course, instead of for other distracting activities. Leveraging the students’ devices creates a more engaging and satisfying learning environment for the students.

Not only does embracing mobile devices in the classroom create a more enjoyable learning environment for the students, it also bears many benefits for the school. Utilizing mobile devices in class shows that the school is forward thinking and is willing to embrace the future. Creating a learning environment that caters specifically to students confirms that the school understands its students and has their best interest at heart. Mobile devices provide instructors and students with a different channel of communicating with each other, allowing questions to be asked and comments to be made without disrupting the lecture.

Moving Towards The Starting Line

Some mobile learning platforms have already made it into the classroom. In fact, ClassDojo, a classroom communication app used in K-12 schools to develop student skills and share reports between parents and teachers, is used by 90% of United States school districts! The K-12 students of today are the career school students of tomorrow, and transitioning to traditional pen and paper learning environments after years of mobile learning will likely cause some students to struggle. This generation of students is used to having devices in class, and will expect to see them in learning environments as they get older. Schools that utilize mobile technology in their programs will be the most efficient, knowledgeable, and appealing to prospective students moving forward.

So, what’s the best way to start implementing mobile devices in your programs? Instead of throwing all of the processes of your existing courses out the window, start with a solution that seamlessly integrates with how your course is already structured. Schools have been using CourseKey in order to digitize and simplify administrative tasks, such as taking attendance, and more effectively evaluate students through polls, assessments, chats, and more. Students access CourseKey on the devices they already bring to class: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Plus, it creates a communal learning environment for the students through a course-wide chat. By using mobile devices to digitally complete some tasks in the classroom, students and instructors can view results instantly, giving everyone involved a real-time insight on how students are progressing.

Paving The Road

Perhaps the biggest benefit of embracing mobile devices in the classroom is the accumulation of data that will come through digitizing processes. That data will become incredibly valuable for schools moving forward. Advanced technologies including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics are right around the corner, and the schools that have the most data will be able to put those new technologies to use most effectively, positioning themselves ahead of schools that opt to stay behind the curve.  

Our world has become increasingly mobile. And schools that recognize that mobile devices and data collection will open the floodgates for advanced technologies will be best positioned to establish themselves as leaders in the industry. Not only does embracing and utilizing students’ devices make operations more efficient, it portrays that schools understand how students operate and are willing to cater to them. Plus, schools will start gathering data about different aspects of students’ education, which will allow them to make significant improvements as time goes by and position themselves as relevant institutions in the future. Aspects of our lives that have been graced by the mobile revolution have improved dramatically. Education should be no exception.

Interested in learning more about how CourseKey facilitates the implementation of mobile devices into your school? Visit coursekeyeducation.com for details about the platform or experience the technology first hand and have all of your questions answered in a live demo with a member of our team.

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