Home » Mobile Learning

Category: Mobile Learning

We’re missing the point

In teaching my second set of students in the Social Media conference, I encountered two unique situations.

The first was that another adult entered the classroom and told the students that they needed to put up their cell phones and pay attention. It took me a couple of seconds to respond, but then I looked over and said, “This is the social media conference. They are actually responding to a survey using their cell phones.” To which, she responded, “Oh.”

The second was when one of students made began to text in her purse and I said, “You know you can take that out of your purse. We are going to be using them all class.”

She looked at me with a confused expression and then literally said out loud, “I feel free.”

If adults are responding to Social Media by limiting access and students who are invited to use Social Media in the classroom are acting in a completely different way, then there’s a disconnect.

We’re missing each other.

We’re missing the point of Social Media, which is to connect to each other.

How to connect student to student via Twitter

Sometimes, I feel like the conversations about Twitter center around the impact that it can have on professional development too much. I certainly value it for that reason, but I don’t think that students will use it in the same way.

Although I have heard that some teachers are exploring with Twitter in the classroom in ways like back feeding class notes or tweeting as a character from a book, I have not settled on whether these are the best use of the technology. While I can see the benefits, I still think those “integrations” are forced and trite.

Twitter was created with community at the center of purpose.

To connect people.

To connect ideas.

To connect.

So, how can we show students how to connect via Twitter with other students?

Are we connected enough with students to even know where to begin?

Looking for a stronger connection

In preparing for a seminar for youth on social media, I have hit a brick wall. This is not uncommon, I often hit a brick wall in preparing to teach something new, especially when technology is involved; however, in this case I am stuck in the middle.

I have no idea if my students will have any sort of device when they come to my seminar because many of their leaders have taken up their cell phones. I understand the policy and the philosophy where this is coming from. In fact, this isn’t the first time that I have encountered this. I have had parents, fellow teachers and administrators who have limited access to technology and I can think around it.

But when is it going to be common place to find an audience who understands how incredibly deep and meaningful using Social Media in a learning setting can be? When is it going to become common place that instead of making rules to ban technology, we are actually going to have open and honest communication about this form of connecting? When are we going to recognize that maybe, just maybe, if students are connected to their devices, they are actually looking for a deeper connection from us?


How can we manage?

You’re right technology is ruining students:

The students threw away their notebooks and started blogs. These blogs became, in essence, open notebooks in which students were willing to learn in public.

Students in one class put together a blog that was read by more than 8,000 people around the world. (How many people read your essays back in high school?) Commenters began showing a serious interest in what the kids were writing. A college professor from Boston wrote in to tell a 15-year-old boy that a college class was using his paper on ancient Rome as an example of good academic writing

How can we handle students who know that learning is an open-ended pursuit that involves more than just their classroom of students and teachers?

How can we manage their curiosity and ensure that it fits in nice, neat curriculum boxes?

How can we manage to plan next year’s curriculum, when a college professor may comment on their blogs and shift the direction of their interest?

How can we manage?

Because that’s what teaching is, right?

Classroom management.

Managing the classroom.

Student management.

Managing students.




“Let’s just pretend,” is how I started my presentation two weeks ago in my Life and Work of the Minister class. I decided to start with that because my book was about considering a change in your ministry position.

For some reason, it’s almost impossible for us, as adults, to talk reasonably through the ideas and dreams that we hold deep within us. It’s almost impossible for us to let those loose. It’s almost impossible for us to dream of getting up everyday and doing something that we absolutely love.

So we have to pretend that’s not a possibility and proclaim loudly, “No one does what they love.”

Which makes perfect sense, except…some people do.

So actually what is standing in between you and doing what you love to do is:

So much pretending, so much big pretending.

Ze Frank never thought that he would be making ashow:

As a child, I was pretending that I fit into the rules and structures of this world. And now that I’m an adult I pretend that those structures exist.

So let’s pretend that we are valuable and we are changing lives.  And maybe just maybe, others will stop pretending that we aren’t.

Apps I use and why

Happy 1 year old Birthday, iPad!

I remember because I bought my iPad in April last year (when I actually got a tax refund…being a teacher without a classroom gets pretty expensive come April 17!).

I am surprised at how many of the apps I have been using since day 1 and use almost daily.

  • Evernote: There is no way that I could do through a day without it!
  • Tweetbot: Now I know that the Twitter app has improved and that it doesn’t crash like it used to, but Tweetbot has consistently added new touches and new tweaks that have made it smoother and easier to use.
  • iBooks and Kindle: simply the best two apps for e-reading in my opinion.
  • Dropbox: Basically, keeps my life together.

What I’ve let go of in the past year:

  •  Instagram: Sorry, you just got worse over the year.
  • Reeder: Sorry, Flipboard is just plain better.
  • Notetaker: Sorry, Simplenote and Notability do it better.

It’s always good to do an inventory of apps that you use and why. It doesn’t help your mobile experience if you are so dead set on the apps you got when you first bought your mobile device, that you aren’t willing to browse to see if there is one that does what you need better. Happy apping!


Are students asking to use mobile devices in your class?

It’s amazing as a teacher when you encounter a community of learners without noticeable barriers and boundaries between teachers and students.

That’s what I saw today at Oakbrook.

I saw teachers who were reflectively considering the way that technology would be used in their classrooms and who were thinking through theses decisions as their students brought up questions about whether they could use their mobile devices in class.

Now as an outsider, hearing that their students would ask whether they could use their devices in class already shows that the students feel comfortable and safe in that learning environment. Safe enough to ask for more.

So maybe that’s a lesson for the rest of us…if our students aren’t asking to use mobile devices in the classroom, then maybe our classrooms aren’t quite as open as we thought they were.

Using the resources you have

In a time of budget crisis, this is one of the best arguments for allowing students to use mobile devices in class:

District leaders want students with devices at home to have the option to switch them on in class. That would free up schools’ limited number of Netbooks, iPods and iPads for students without access to them.

“We want to have a one-to-one (one device for each student) environment, but we don’t have a funding source,” Associate Superintendent Luanne Kokolis said.

Is your schools considering the same thing because of monetary restraints?

Maybe there’s better

Maybe Khan Academy isn’t the best thing in education:

Mr. Khan stated that the purpose of Khan Academy was to have the students watch the lectures at home, on their own, so teachers could do better things in class. How about we get rid of the lectures all together, or use them sparingly in class as an interactive discussion? How about we make sure that students can learn during class time. How about we assign “homework” to students that addresses their interests and needs?