Newsflash for the oldies who haven’t been an awkward pubescent teenager in the last 10 years: Mobile devices are no longer just for the rich kids at school. Not only have these nifty devices crept into our homes, workplace and social lives but now also Australian classrooms. Now, educators are rethinking their game plans, and increasingly deciding to run with these new technologies.
Maybe you’re thinking that mobile devices are pesky distractions, allowing students to text message and stalk their friends on social media during class; or mastering skills in game apps instead of calculus (although, consider when was the last time you used calculus – maybe all that practice in Fruit Ninja was time well spent). But when these devices can sit right in front of a student and interact with them in real-time at any instant they want, is it really a surprise that mobile devices can be more engaging than being lectured by a teacher from metres away?
Lecturers at universities know that half the time, they are talking to walls instead of the students in front of them. And a few years ago, the “cool” lecturers decided that “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Next minute, these lecturers are encouraging students to ‘Tweet’ or SMS questions directly to the lecturer’s phone during class time. These lecturers became very popular amongst students who find yelling out questions from the middle of a 100-seated lecture theatre is a tad embarrassing (i.e. all students *shudders*).
Some governments and schools in Australia have also given the thumbs-up to use tablets and laptops at school. At some schools, laptops have even been a requirement for students at some schools for over a decade now, but tablets were only allowed on school grounds from 2010, after government-run trials of iPad optimisation in the education sector.
And – here’s a shocker for the sceptics – not only did the students increase their Tap Tap average scores; they also showed improved academic performance during these iPad trials in Victoria and Queensland.
Technology does not replace what students learn – it transforms how they learn it. And the beauty of apps is that they stretch the capabilities of a mobile device to cater various fields of interest and study. From being able to hold all their textbooks in one hand, to learning introductory game design with Cargo-Bot, there is an appealing app for every kind of student.
And if students still want to practice Fruit Ninja in math class, there is the Factor Samurai app that requires multiplication skills and ninja hands.
So far, widespread use of mobile devices in education has hindered by budgets and the technology’s relatively new status. There is even argument that using technologies such as iPads fails to prepare students for the workplace, where desktop is still king. But mobile devices and apps are game changers in the education sector and they’ve proven to be a means to distribute information and to foster creative and innovative people through Australia’s education system.
So are you going to beat them or join them?
Check out our article, Leaving The Desktop: Apps In The Classroom, to find out what apps are being used in the education sector right now. And for more juice on the world of apps, get your free copy of INSIGHTS Issue #3 The Rise and Rise of Mobile Apps by signing up below:
Diane Horvath, https://flic.kr/p/eqXX2c