Mobile Learning


As a librarian and computer technology teacher of elementary students, I find that incorporating the use mobile devices seems to come pretty naturally in my field. Perhaps there is a difference between specifically using mobile devices and desktop computers in my classrooms, however I think that many of the same principles apply even if the devices are slightly different. Should a teacher be prepared to allow or even require students to use mobile devices to reach learning goals? I believe so, and I think there are three good reasons why.

First, 21st century learning depends on doing “new things in new ways” which will be done through creative use of technology. (Prensky, 2005). Second, We need to teach good digital citizenship (Global Digital Citizen Foundation, n.d.). Cyber bullying is a huge issue these days, affecting millions of children worldwide (Pro, 2015) and thus, the proper and responsible use of technology (and the proper response to bullying and other forms of negative ways of using the internet) should be taught to all students from a young age. Third, students are already using the technology – we should embrace it and make learning relevant and fun to students who already want to communicate in these ways (The fun theory, 2011; Prensky, 2005).


Doing things in new ways is critical for the advancement of knowledge. There are several steps that need to be taken in order to reach that goal (Prensky, 2005). How can a teacher using mobile learning work toward this goal? She can engage in creative work. John Hardison came up with 44 smart ways to use smartphones in the classroom. Some of my favorite ideas are ways to collaborate and communicate. Online collaboration programs rock in the classroom! I love seeing my students work together on projects. An example of how mobile learning works well here is by using some type of cloud drive that allows everyone to contribute to or edit documents or projects. One student collects and synthesizes data through web searches, another finds or takes pictures/video to illustrate concepts online or with their camera, a third is making a slide presentation to summarize findings, while a 4th will add voice-over to flesh out stagnant material displayed on screen. In the end the present their findings to other grades and get to teach the younger students as well.

My second point is that we need to be using mobile devices as a means of of developing good digital citizens.You can read more about it here. We teach this even while using mobile devices. Here is a project I found that helps students to learn how to this. Kids can learn good digital citizenship by playing games designed to teach this or they can make calls to other students in other places around the world to hear their perspective on the issue as well as collaborate on ways to respond to cyber-bullying.


Last, it is important for teachers to allow and even require their students to utilize technology in their classrooms because students will be required to utilize this type of skill set in their future jobs and even college careers. Plus, they are already using it — they are able to access knowledge at the touch of a finger, therefore we should provide them with the structure and guidance to use this ability good rather than evil.


What I mean by that is this: Students will use their devices. It’s up to educators to help them unlock the potential to learn and grow, create and thrive, through the power of technology applied to their studies and even future work experiences.

One way to do this is to incorporate social networking into learning. Students can share ideas and respond to questions or poles using various online platforms. Students can use texting in group chats as a way to brainstorm. They can take notes with voice recorders or video responses to questions. One teacher I know utilized her students’ knowledge of using smartphone cameras and role-playing games (RPGs) to film themselves as historical figures answering questions from “the future” as if they were a historical figure. The ideas are limitless!


Now that we have looked at some good reasons for teachers to be ready to use and even require the use of mobile learning in their classrooms as well as some examples of how to do this, let’s consider 10 guiding principles/questions that a teacher should consider before they implement the above strategies and ideas in their own classrooms:

  1. Do all students have access to mobile phones or equivalent technology?
    1. If not, how will the discrepancy be addressed?
  2. Are all devices charged and ready to be used before class?
    1. What procedures will be followed if a student’s device is dead or malfunctioning?
  3. Have all activities been tested?
  4. How will the teacher manage student login information/passwords?
    1. What if a student forgets his/her login information?
  5. Have appropriate and tested backup plans been made?
  6. Have all apps/websites/activities been tested beforehand?
    1. Have any apps need been purchased or downloaded before class?
  7. Have basic troubleshooting scenarios been assessed and addressed?
  8. Do students have a basic knowledge of good digital citizenship?
    1. Have they learned skills to be good digital citizens and respond well when they encounter those who are not good digital citizens?
  9. How will the teacher assess/provide feedback on student work?
  10. When guiding a mobile learning activity I have found it extremely useful to have a set of directions for students to follow as a refer to as they are completing their project. This allows me to meet with individual groups as they work instead of constantly fielding questions related to our project. Has a set of guidelines/directions/project planner, etc. been created to help students work independently and keep on task?
    1. Has this been revised and improved after each used?




Daccord, T. (2012, September 27). 5 critical mistakes schools make with iPads (and how to
correct them). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from Edudemic, http://www.edudemic.com/5-critical-mistakes-schools-ipads-and-correct-them/

The Fun Theory. (2011, September 5). The fun theory. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.thefuntheory.com/

Global Digital Citizen Foundation. Digital citizenship school program | global digital citizen foundation. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/digital-citizenship-school-program

Prensky, M. (2005, December 2). Shaping tech for the classroom. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from Teacher Development, https://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt-shaping-tech-for-classroom

Pro, Antibullying. (2015, April 7). Facts and statistics on bullying and cyberbullying. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.antibullyingpro.com/blog/2015/4/7/facts-on-bullying

Promise, D. (2014, October 1). The new librarian: Leaders in the digital age. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://digitalpromise.org/2014/10/01/teacher-librarians-chart-a-new-course-in-vancouver-public-schools/


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