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Friday, July 22, 2011

Using Technology in the Classroom - the Mobile Experience

Making class a little more fun can be easy with technology. To further expand, "making class easier" can seem a lot like making class harder for the teacher. Now with access to everything from "Angry Birds" to Educational Apps on iPad, to blogs and webcomics on the internet, classes have become inundated with technology to try. In some ways it may seem more difficult to pick through the tangle. If we look at something more specific, say the iPad, then we see it has been geared toward education, but has it been geared toward teaching? Perhaps it is, but not necessarily the way of teaching as experienced previously.
In a recent conversation, the need to adapt teaching styles to new technology arose. One of the participants in the discussion noted that it was good to instigate integration of technology into the classroom, but without understanding how to utilize the technology in new ways it would be useless. Nobody likes to be told they are "behind the times", as seen in the post in the "Bright Ideas" blog titled 17 Signs your classroom is behind the times, but as life gets more and more mobile, noted in the article over at eSchool News, there is an increasing need to familiarize with the mobile technology available not only in life, but also in the classroom (which is purported as the preparation for life).
As a demonstration of the more common way to teach, in a recent article posted at iLearn Technology blog, the author mentions using webcomics to enliven a class*. The webcomic they refer to is "Brown Sharpie" (a mathmatics webcomic**). By using iPad applications and webcomics, the teacher integrated technology into the classroom in a manner similar to the old way where maybe a clipping would be brought in and discussed. Furthermore, the judging of resources for research are eased with Apps from the app list mentioned by Apps in Education in an article on iPad Apps used to research projects.

In a more modern approach, the student is given the power wherein they must utilize the search and collate functions important to life outside the classroom. In an article by Michele O'Dell, two approaches to the iPad in conjunction with curriculum are approached. The Apps in Education blog also has a comprehensive list of strategies posted recently as Mobile Learning and Tablets in Education RoundUp!. If each student has access to an iPad, then learning how to individualize the learning experience through projects like creating an eBook on the iPad might be considered.

Whatever the method of integrating technology into the classroom, hopefully this post assisted in pointing out some resources to assist the process.

*Although these are educational comics, it is always recommended that one checks that the specific comic of the day is up to standard for the age group the viewing thereof is geared toward.

**[In this mathematical and science vein, some other fun math comics are "Spiked Math" (although it is for a slightly more college-aged readership at times), "Peebles Lab" (Apologies to English grammarians for there is no apostrophe - it is a science based comic), "xkcd" (the golden standard of stick-figure geek comics), and "(x, why?)" (a math comic - tends toward puns). Some of the fun of using webcomics is not only in the connection, but also in updating how one interacts with technology. Some of the webcomics (Brown Sharpie) also include apps.]