For many teachers and educational institutions, mobiles phones are things to be banned, and there’s no doubt that their use can be discourteous or even disruptive, and there may also be concerns about their safety. However, mobiles can be great educational tools, and as devices evolve they provide an increasing range of teaching and learning possibilities.
What can they do now? Helen’s January posting on Go Mobile! gives a lot of information, and so does the section on mobiles in the Horizon 2009 report. Here are a few examples: pictures and video recordings to show the results of experiments & fieldtrips in science; custom calculators for maths, engineering; audio recordings in music, languages; custom content packages for ‘on the spot’ reference eg. medicine, construction; custom content packages for language learning; GPS software for Geography activities; use of bluetooth/online services for video-streaming and accessing information remotely (eg. GeoHistorian project at Kent State University); use of texting for institutional communication.
The application that I’m waiting for is ‘voting’ as in ‘voting systems’ or ‘audience response systems’. This is already happening, for example, ‘VotApedia’ in Australia, and using iPhones in the US. I think this type of application will help tip the balance in favour of using mobiles in classroom situations – mobiles will be a curse unless they’re kept busy educationally (bit like students, really!)