M-Learning Strategies by Gary R. Brady

What is M-Learning: So you have been experimenting with having students use mobile devices for assignments. You may have even tried flipping your classroom by having students watch video clips as homework and then following the video up with a rigorous in class video analysis. At this point students have probably shared the key insight that watching video assignments is most convenient to them on their mobile devices. So now you are thinking "how can I use personal devices like smartphones or tablets as a learning device in the classroom?" Watch my Mobile Learning YouTube video to find out more about what m-learning has to offer as a trending learning technology .

The situation: Mobile learning has several wonderful qualities. The first is the fact that learning can take place anywhere, anytime and on any device. The second is that m-learning can be used in the traditional classroom setting or anywhere in the world. Because of this m-learning offers content creators an amazing world of possibility. For the purposes of this post we are going to focus on learning that is taking place in a classroom space, and how m-learning can dramatically improve the experience of learners and teachers.

A pair of students participating in a Mobile Pair-Share Poll

The Hack: The Mobile Pair-Share is an activity that incorporates m-learning into the traditional classroom environment. For this activity you should have students work with a partner. Research suggests that tech based activities are best when there is an adult or peer to co-view or experience the activity with. Students will only need one mobile device per pair for this activity. Teachers should prepare a Microsoft Form or Google Form that has several questions. The first question should be a basic agree or disagree type question that strikes at the heart of what you are polling. (See example below) Follow up questions should require reflection on the students initial response to the poll. Be sure to switch on the required feature so that the students will all have to answer all of the questions in order to submit. (Click this link for information on a traditional Pair-Share)

The teacher's role during polling: Watch the results come in and simply pull out the key student opinions that you want to highlight. There is never a need to ask for volunteers…You know that all to familiar scenario where you do not know what to expect from a student? With Forms you can watch the responses roll in and decide which pairs you will select to have share with the whole group. The Mobile Pair-Share holds students accountable, ensures them of wait time, provides sufficient processing time, as well as, time to prepare a reasonable response if called upon. Not to mention, that because students are working with partners they are not being put on the spot when you cold call on them.

Be sure to have the polling information in plain view of the students so that they can see responses and discuss results with peers.

Potential issues: Every great once in a while you will have partners that cannot agree on which side they want to take regarding the polling question. That is okay because our job as educators is to support students in forming their own opinions. The fix for this is to have the pair of students submit two separate responses. After one partner submits, then the second member takes the same device and clicks submit another response. The second student will then need to complete the prompts as well. Problem solved!

Focus on Empathy: Anytime teachers have students take positions on controversial issues there is an opportunity to teach empathy. Take advantage of this by discussing the underlying issues. Recognize the humanity in every circumstance and situation. Below you will see a few responses to the question: Would you cut corners to make a profit as a business owner?

Responses from a 6th grade social studies class.

The discussion that followed the Mobile Pair-Share polling activity involved a great deal of perspective taking. It was a wonderful example of how mobile learning can encourage students to be more empathetic. In addition, having students see data in real-time that they themselves were producing is empowering.

The take-away: Take advantage of the tools that we do have available to us. Districts don't have to have 1 : 1 policies for tech transformations to occur. Today, there are more smart phones than people in the United States. Using m-learning principles in the classroom and outside of it is one way of taking advantage of personal devices like the smart phone, which is the first piece of technology that has ever flirted with providing true technological equity to students.

Thank you for reading! Contact me on Twitter @Mr_gbrady or on Linkedin @ Gary Brady

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