Mobile Technology in Class – Friend or Foe?
On Friday, May 4th, four faculty members and two staff members discussed the impact mobile technologies have in the classroom in our Brown Bag Friday luncheons.
The stimulating conversation kicked off with some polling, using mobile devices. All the teachers reported using mobile devices (laptops, iPads, smart phones) in the classroom. One faculty member shared several stories about how students’ on-going checking of text messages during class resulted in major class disruptions. In each of the stories, students received some shocking, significant news via text and left class early and distraught.
These stories triggered discussion about broader observations and implications, such as changes in how people interact with one another, the need to be continually connected, shorter attention spans, excessive multi-tasking, and more. These “shifts” in general human behavior warrant shifts in teaching as well. One faculty member commented on how lectures (their place in the classroom and form) have changed, referencing the flipped classroom strategy. One faculty member suggested Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?”
The group shared different strategies to try and ensure that the use of mobile devices contributed to learning in the classroom.
• Set clear and specific expectations and guidelines for mobile technology use in the classroom – verbally during the first few classes and written within the syllabus.
• Monitor use – walk around class – particularly in the beginning of the course and speak to people (after class) if they are inappropriately using technology. Be sure to communicate that you will not tolerate misuse during class.
• Engage students in using their mobile devices constructively during class. Embrace the technologies and applications they already use. For example, assign students to work in small groups to find examples of the concept or principle in use. Partner those students who do not have such technology with those who do. Use Twitter as a backchannel during lectures. Use polling to gauge interest and comprehension. Use Google Docs for collaboration or as a central place to record and view questions.
Do you have any strategies to share?