Our cell phones have evolved from the indestructible Nokia phones that were primarily used for speaking (sometimes I forget that I can do that on my iPhone!). Add social media to the list of many activities that are commonplace for the screen of our mobile devices, and it is easy to question the necessity of our trusty desktop computers.
A little more than 2/3 of the time Facebook users spent on the service happened on a mobile device, according to comScore data that was analyzed by Statista. For Twitter, the number was north of 85%. Activity on image-heavy platforms like Pinterest and Yahoo’s Tumblr are happening on mobile, too. LinkedIn, on the other hand, saw only 26% of its activity on mobile — perhaps its user base is checking in from the old company desktop at the office?
Some services, like the messaging app Snapchat and the Twitter’s video tool Vine, are inherently mobile. But in Facebook’s case, the data back up the company’s urgency (and validate its success) in rapidly building out its mobile-ad network.
The Cell Phone and the Classroom
What implication does this have for the classroom? It’s easy for educators to shy away from embracing mobile technologies and simply remove it from their teaching environment. But when the majority of social networking is accessed via mobile devices, it may be in the teacher’s best interest to relate to students using similar mediums. In a previous post, I have already discussed the importance of social media in the classroom, and its success is reinforced through educational networks including #EdChat, #EdTech, and #OntEd.
Educators have opportunities to create impactful teaching moments using what is already pertinent in a student’s life, the cell phone. 21st Century teaching styles encourage competencies including collaboration, knowledge construction, skilled communication, real-world problem solving and innovation, use of information and communication technologies for learning, and self-regulation. Mobile phones is a technology that students are generally well aware of and fluent in. Using mobile apps speak to students in a relatable fashion, allowing the teacher to seize the opportunity of bridging together 21st Century Learning and curriculum material.
A plethora of mobile educational apps exist, and let’s face it, we don’t have time (or money) to go through and personally purchase and review each and every one. This post helps navigate through the maze of mobile educational apps and guides educators to the tools that best suit their classroom needs. The following is a list comprised of apps for Android and iOS devices that are geared towards student and teacher collaborative use within the classroom. They are meant to be used to enhance lessons and renegotiate teaching strategies. There are plenty of apps for the cell phone that teachers can use alongside students in the classroom, enhancing lessons and renegotiating teaching strategies.
The App World
Edmodo allows the discussion to continue even after that school bell rings. Teachers and students can share content and use the app as a conduit for new information or notifications, submitting assignments and receive grades in the process. The ability for teachers to post assignments, messages, polls and quizzes, while providing access to relevant resources and calendars is simply invaluable.
Teacher’s Assistant Pro
$10 | iOS
Organization is key in the classroom, but it’s not always easy. Teacher’s Assistant Pro allows you to keep a set of behaviour records for each student in your care, offering a quick method for looking up and noting bad behaviour, and letting you email specific incidents from directly within the app’s main interface.
Teacher Aide Pro
$10 | Android
Teacher Aide Pro is the Android counterpart to Teacher’s Assistant Pro, allowing you to easily record attendance and student information. Clicking a student’s name reveals their contact information and that of their parents, providing options for calling and emailing on the spot. The app even houses a gradebook function for assigning different weights to assignments.
Free | iOS
As a clever alternative to standard presentations, ScreenChomp allows you to record your own narrations as you sketch out and explain an idea on your iPad. Whether you sketch on a plain background or choose a specific image from your camera roll, you can explain as you go after sharing the video with students or other educators via a unique URL or downloadable MP4.
The innovative, magazine-like Zite culls content such as relevant blog posts, news articles, and videos from an exhaustive bank of more than 40,000 chosen topics. The app learns your preferences over time, customizing displayed content using a robust algorithm, rendering it ideal for teachers who want to stay on top of the latest subject matter and find the latest news to share with students without having to spend hours scouring the Web every afternoon.
Class Messenger is a way for teachers to keep parents privately aware of what is going on in their child’s classroom. Teachers can send messages individual parents or those of the entire class, reminding them of upcoming school trips, prompting them to volunteer, or surveying them regarding certain material. Messages and push notifications also sync across both mobile and desktop platforms, ensuring up-to-date content.