A Long Beach California high school made headlines last week because they are piloting a program where textbook are not used and algebra students use their class notes and an iPad app to help them study for exams.
As the world become increasingly digitized, schools, instructors, and curriculum designers are quickly catching on to adapting their “tried and true” methods and embracing mobile devices.
As a curriculum designer, I find this to be similar to Star Trek’s voyage to where no one has gone before. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but so are the pitfalls. My biggest concern is the increasingly short attention span of learners. Apps seem to naturally feed this very common disease, but complimenting apps with classroom work is a perfect way to engage students.
Instructors to help students apply their newfound knowledge often use in-class assignments. Using an app or two can add to the students learning experience while also teaching the how to merge technology with the dynamics of instructor led courses. It is now up to instructors to come up with new and exciting way to apply m-learning to the class, which can be a challenge to many teachers who are intent on “just” teaching.
Mobile devises can add extra content, provide students with small chunks of information, give them short quizzes, provide them with a platform to review in-class PowerPoint slide, and access links posted by the teacher that are relevant to the course. Some teachers may even go as far as creating short games based on course content.
M-learning can be serious, but it should be fun and engaging for the students. For those students new to iPads, they will find it a novelty, but once the novelty wears off, the instructor must keep the students engage with interesting, relevant, and short learning chunks.
The key to m-learning is short, or small. Students should be able to complete a review or assignment within 10 minutes. Teachers must remember that some students are learning while on a bus, waiting in a bar for their friends, or while there is a commercial on TV.
To be successful, m-learning must be flexible and concentrate on the students’ needs. Once instructors understand how their learners will interact with the devise and in what circumstances they are using m-learning, then teacher can begin creating curriculum that compliment their in-class lesson plans.