Mobile learning in education has come a long way since its introduction into classrooms. Most of the schools I have taught at now have some sort of mobile technology whether it will be a laptop, iPad and now even smartphones! Student use of this technology is crucial as it is important for those in education to mimic real-world experiences and today mobile technology is becoming more common than has been even five years ago.
Laptops being the first of the mobile technologies in the classroom is still in use and depending on the preferences of the school can still encourage students to learn. Unlike desktop computers however, its mobility can create headaches for teachers if not managed effectively with strategies that help students to understand their responsibility in it use.
So here are some useful advice.
1. Always plan ahead and check with the school technician to see if anything was working the way it should. We all know that technology is not reliable so if something can break down, it will. Have the technician on standby even at the beginning of the lesson sometimes waiting at the door to give yourself piece of mind.
2. Room setup is also another important factor when it comes to using laptops in the classroom. Functional desks and seating arrangements that encourage student collaboration is recognised as the best practice as it not only replicates real-world experiences but also helps you manage teamwork more efficiently. Arrange desks in clusters to enable you to circulate the room better.
3. How to stop students from drifting off onto other Internet sites is another question many teachers would like to know? One technique that you can trial is called the “Stick ‘em Up” method. This was introduced to me through one of my resources that I have (Pamela Livingston). The idea is that whenever you suspect students’ minds are wandering somewhere else they shouldn’t be simply pull out your ‘five fingered six shooter’ and say ‘Stick ‘em Up!” Students would need to know that as soon as you do that must raise their hands in the air and allow you to check their screens. Be sure to check to see if they have tried to hide them as well by minimising them. Believe me I have seen it happen many times.
Another technique also introduced by Pamela Livingston was the ‘Lids down’ approach and the name is quite explanatory here. You would simply tell them to close their lids to about fist height which is too low to look at properly without having to scrunch down. In this approach, you will need to be quite vigilant as students might still try to type something.
4. My final bit of advice is about how you would benefit when you continually structure your lessons so that they are student-centred. Through facilitating these kinds of lessons more work can be accomplished and this is because students come to expect the structure of the lesson. A good way to start would be to discuss with the whole class what they are going to do, answer any question they throw at you then send them off to do their work.
Mobile technology in the classroom such as laptops brings with it many challenges particularly if they have Internet access, emails and possibly things that students have installed from their USBs. Classroom management in these circumstances can really test you at times. However, if you plan ahead you can meet these challenges head on and ensure that students ICT capability is learnt alongside subject content too.