A recent article in the Times Higher Education Supplement outlines the ways in which mobile technologies are beginning to become much more widely used in the classroom. The piece challenges widely held view about the role of mobile technology in the classroom situation and notes that many schools have overturned bans on the use of mobile phones in schools in recognition of their untapped potential to support learning. Projects at Sheffield College approach this from a contractual point of view, asking students to sign up to codes of behaviour for proper use at the start of each year.
Suggestions for manging the use of classroom mobile technology:
* Identify and support champions – volunteer teachers who are prepared to take some risks.
* Initiate discussions about using mobile phones for learning (perhaps using pupil voice work) and survey ownership, device capability and the ways mobile phones are already being used in the school.
* Involve those who have responsibility for curriculum, student management and technical support to plan how they will be used.
* Provide hands-on, small-scale opportunities for teachers to try out appropriate uses for mobile phones.
* Encourage teachers to design activities that make the learning purpose clear and to anticipate management issues at the classroom level (such as rules and etiquette).
* Inform parents of the learning purposes for mobile phones and involve them in establishing appropriate ownership, management and ethical arrangements.
* Anticipate and address technical issues ranging from battery-charging to network access, security and data protection.
* Develop new school policies that shift the focus of attention away from the device to the uses, security and behavioural issues that are the real concern.