534 – Mobile App Mobile Computing

As a learner I use mobile apps to organize my schedule, create to-do lists, and check emails.  I use mobile devices to take photos that I use in projects.  As a teacher/learner that uses Google Apps, most of these tend to be around the Google Apps suite. These include Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.  I also use EdX app to learn for professional development purposes.  In Dr. Haskell’s courses, I have used Team Speak app to communicate in VOIP for working collaboratively in virtual worlds.  These are just those that I use most frequently at the present time.  There are many others that I have used in the past.

 

As an educator, I use mobile apps to check email, manage appointments, and for simple internet searches in meetings.  As part of instruction, when I taught social studies I had my students use an app called GFlash+.  I could create vocab sets and share them with students for them to review key vocabulary with flashcards and self-check quizzes.  When I have tutored, students we have used Khan Academy so I could customize math practice work to each learner’s needs and skills that needed reinforcement.  To give students a sense of place we have used the Google Earth app to explore the Geography of the World.  In my GA position, we use Tracking Time to assign projects for work on the Cool Teacher Show and track hours of how long it takes us to complete.  I encourage students that have mobile devices to use the Google Classroom Apps this way they get the most timely alerts.  However, not all students have mobile devices which creates a digital divide in the use of these tools at my current school.  In previous schools, we had several iPod touches in my class that students could borrow when I was giving the option to use mobile devices.  Although not a perfect scenario, it did minimize the digital divide a little bit.

 

As a parent, having age appropriate apps on my phone that support learning means that no matter where we are my own children can practice math facts, improve reading skills, and work on letter, shape, and number recognition and writing skills.  I love the devices that have parental controls that allow you to lock certain apps or only open “fun” apps after reading is done.  For my own kiddos, this is a motivator to do what they see as less desirable activities in order to get to do more “entertaining” apps.

 

The ease and portability of apps on Mobile devices make it more accessible than having a computer all the time (Cummins, M, Larry Johnson, and Samantha Adams. The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 higher education edition. The New Media Consortium, 2012.)  They add greater function to a phone which is why 91% of adults have their mobile phones within arm’s reach at all times.(1).  Given this data, several schools are using apps like Remind to push out alerts to parents and students alike as a way to improve school communication.


  1. “Fifty Essential Mobile Marketing Facts – Forbes.” 2013. 13 May. 2016 <http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/11/12/fifty-essential-mobile-marketing-facts/>
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Learning Anytime Anywhere

It never ceases to amaze me the role that technology plays in education and the acquisition of new skills.  For example, yesterday was a snow day, despite the fact that my daughter didn’t have school and I wasn’t teaching in a typical classroom setting there was tons of learning occurring in my house.

While I was lesson planning in Google Drive, creating new ASSISTments for a PD session, and attending 3DGameLab camp on video game design, my 8 year old was asking for more practice work in Khan Academy and learning about computers on Discovery Kids Puterbugs.  Even today with a sick day for one of my kiddos I’ll still be working from home and as she feels better I am sure there will be Khan and Puterbugs in her future.  Yet, this independent learning and working from home still hasn’t permeated the walls of most educational institutions.  The change process in education seems as though it plugs along at such a slow pace that it is always behind the needs of society.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be a snow day where it counts as a missed day of school.  These days could be educational opportunities for digital learning.  However, with parts of the country still without internet access, the digital divide impedes this as an option in rural communities.  Certainly, this is an option that could be explored more in the future.  Think of the financial savings of this day not being added to the end of the year.  One less day that the school busses need to run.  One less day the lights need to be on in the classroom.  Just because we are not in the physical four walls of a brick and mortar school doesn’t means that learning can’t occur.  Even at the elementary level this is a possibility with the right supports for teacher professional development and technology resources in place.