Using Mobile Devices in the Classroom

I moved from a large, technologically advanced district to a smaller school district this year.  The district is growing quickly and is having a hard time updating and implementing new technology on a large scale.  The district does have a BYOD policy but it is rarely used by teachers on the 7th and 8th grade campus where I teach science.  I interviewed Mr. John Nowlin, a history teacher on my campus, who explained the use of mobile devices by the 7th grade History teachers.

Question: How do you use mobile devices in your classroom?  In Texas History, we use them sometimes for BYOD warm-ups.  Ex. Use your device for 5 minutes to research everything you can about the person on the board.

Question: Do you discuss expectations with students and parents before using the mobile devices?  If yes, how?  So far, there has not been much discussion around expectations with parents or kids.

Question: What challenges do you face when using mobile devices in your classroom?  We experimented last year with trying to do a project using them.  The issue was finding an app that all kids could get to on both I-technology and Android and then also having the ability for a student to turn it in to the teacher.  The other issue is that some students did not own technology and what to do for them.  There was a very strong issue about not letting someone else use your technology.  That made team projects harder to plan.  The person who owns the phone/tablet is the scribe etc.

I think one of the reasons teachers aren’t utilizing the BYOD policy is that they don’t know how.  I have students using their own devices several times a week but started out the year slowly and had to teach them about my expectations.  I also think it might be a good idea if the campus had a separate BYOD policy that is more specific than the district policy.  It should be communicated to parents by teachers that plan to use student devices in their classrooms.  This would keep expectations and consequences in each classroom consistent for the students.

I have started talking to my campus administration about more teacher training on the effective use of our BYOD policy and technology integration.  I’m hoping to get the teachers excited about technology use in the classroom which will help engage students in content related activities.

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