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When is a Phone not Just a Phone?






Far from banning cell phones and other devices, many school districts are "going mobile" in an attempt to boost digital literacy and take advantage of evolving technology.



The phrase “going mobile” is continually referenced by school districts around the world, but what does it mean? We live in an increasingly mobile environment and it stands to reason that schools are the next frontier for this trend, but there's a lot to consider.

In September 2013 the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found 91% of Americans own a cellphone. The same survey found that 63% of cellphone owners use their phones to access the Internet – a figure that has doubled since 2009. Furthermore, 73% of teachers say that they or their students use cellphones in the classroom or to complete assignments, according to the survey.

As these statistics are sure to keep rising, administrators and educators must work to prepare their district’s students to become future-ready adults. There are many benefits attributed to going mobile in the education community, yet there are also those who disagree with the movement. Although there are some conflicting views, data shows that Internet use via mobile devices is a growing trend, and therefore should not be overlooked in education.

Preparation for the digital world, increased communication between home and school, and improved student outcomes through various apps and tools are all fundamental motives for your district to go mobile and provide students with the support they need to succeed. 

 

District administrators must work together to develop modern curricula and enhance the infrastructure required to promote this kind of environment.


Building Digital Literacy

The mission of any school district is to prepare students for the future and adulthood. Going mobile in your district is an important option to consider for achieving this goal and helping students become digitally accountable. “The best way to keep any technology from being a distraction is through engaging instruction and the continued teaching of digital responsibility,” writes Nancy Amling, principal of Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in New York City, in an eSchool News article titled Why cellphones belong in our classrooms.

Using mobile devices in the classroom can empower students, engage them in learning, and help them adapt to devices they will use in college and their careers. District administrators must work together to develop modern curricula and enhance the infrastructure required to promote this kind of environment.

Students who are exposed to mobile devices in the classroom will be more prepared for higher education, careers in technology, or occupations that use some form of technology day-to-day. Educators should work to develop digital literacy for all students and help them create a web presence that reflects well on their character and education. In a Bloomberg Business article, Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent for learning at Burlington in Massachusetts, advises students, “… start thinking about your digital footprint. It’s becoming your resume.” 
 
Mobile access helps empower students to take responsibility for their own education through a more comfortable medium.


Communicating Effectively

Increased communication between home and school is another important benefit of going mobile in your district. Smartphones and other devices allow parents, administrators, educators and students to download apps and stay connected. A family/student portal, for example, can bridge the gap between home-school communications and allows parents to stay updated on district or school news, grades, lunch accounts, athletic schedules and more.

Mobile access helps empower students to take responsibility for their own education through a more comfortable medium. With easy access to information through devices, students will take the initiative when it comes to checking grades, catching up on missing homework, viewing attendance, and communicating with their teachers. Going mobile will also allow administrators and educators to track students’ attendance throughout the school day and ensure students get the help they may need – especially during resource periods. 
 

Video Checkpoint - Can your apps do this?


 

 
Unlike textbooks, which often become quickly outdated, information on the Web is kept up-to-the-minute.


Improving Student Outcomes

Implementing a mobile environment can improve student outcomes in a number of ways. Real-time learning becomes possible when research and search results, such as news and information, happen live. Unlike textbooks, which often become quickly outdated, information on the Web is kept up-to-the-minute. Mobile devices can help your district’s students become accustomed to online research. They can learn to determine the credibility of sources when doing research – a valuable skill for college and career paths.

In addition to aiding the development of student research skills, going mobile can facilitate digital literacy training when you integrate your district’s LMS with these devices. Consider using online books, videos, and collaborative materials students can access in the classroom and from home to practice skills and gain additional knowledge of subjects covered.

Teachers can create and share class demonstrations to be viewed again by students. Reviewing a math or chemistry lesson can be helpful as students complete homework assignments and projects. Mobile devices can make learning a more interactive and engaging process. A variety of students’ skills can be enhanced – from problem solving and critical thinking to collaboration, communication and presentation skills.
 
Take advantage of modernized E-rate funding and expand your bandwidth as soon as possible.


There are several considerations to keep in mind before you consider going mobile. Always be sure to set priorities and goals before adopting devices. By keeping the mobile model aligned with your district’s high level goals, the rollout will go much smoother and objectives are more likely to be achieved. In addition, the support of staff members and educators throughout the process will be crucial, as their participation in and backing of new district initiatives is what will ultimately help students be successful.

Remember to keep in mind the infrastructure needs of your district. Few school networks are equipped to handle hundreds of new connected devices. Take advantage of modernized E-rate funding and expand your bandwidth as soon as possible.

With such significant benefits within reach for your district and its students, now is the time to take action and go mobile. Prepare your students for what is to come, and meet your district’s central mission of developing future-ready citizens equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to take on a digital world.
 

Follow-Up Resource: Go Mobile 

For more on Skyward's commitment to supporting a mobile learning environment, visit our mobile page


 



 
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