Planning for Mobile Learning: Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.

As more schools move to adopt 1:1 and mobile learning programs (Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced plans to equip all students with a device by 2014), it is important to think about how these devices will be used in the classroom before moving forward. Simply having the devices is not enough.

Today we will look into:

Should the devices all be school provided or a mixture of BYOD and school provided?
Should students be allowed to bring school-owned devices home?
What about students who do not have internet access at home?


 How can mobile device reduce paper consumption?
How will teachers share resources with student devices?
How will students submit assignments to teachers? 

How will digital licenses of resources such as etextbooks be managed?
How will teachers be trained to effectively incorporate these new devices?


BYOD or School Provided?

This decision comes down to two things: how much control you want to have over the devices and how big your budget is.

YoungBoyPointingToTablet reduced 1024x682 Planning for Mobile Learning: Part 1

If having tight control over the devices is not a big issue, the BYOD may be the way to go for your schools. Additionally, allowing students to use the devices they already use everyday shows them that these devices can be used for more than just playing games and texting friends. They will start to see these devices as tools to accomplish their learning needs and goals.

In any BYOD program, there is always the concern of what to do about students who cannot afford their own device. For this reason, it is a good idea to invest some school-owned devices for these students to use. Instead of supplying the entire school with devices, only supply them to those who need them. In this manner, you will save money by only purchasing a fraction of the devices that would be needed to provide them to every student and you will still be able to accomplish your goal of creating a 1:1 environment.

However, if having complete control over the devices used by students is important, or money is not an issue, then school-provided devices for all are a good way to go. When the school provides the devices students use, all students will have the same device and tech support will only have to learn to support this one device. All devices will be equal.

Teachers unsure how to approach a 1:1 environment often have an easier time with homogeneous devices because they are able to plan their lessons around specific apps or ways of completing a task. If a student has a question about how to accomplish a task, the teacher will be better prepared to provide assistance.

Ultimately, this decision comes down to what your school is comfortable with. Both methods have been tried elsewhere and both have seen equal success when done correctly.

Should Students be Allowed to Bring School-Owned Devices Home?

YoungWomenLoungingWithTablet reduced 1024x682 Planning for Mobile Learning: Part 1If your school decides to provide devices to all students, the next question becomes whether or not students should be allowed to bring these devices home each night. (If your school is using a combination of BYOD and school provided, the answer should always be yes in order to provide all students the same learning experience since the BYOD students get to bring their devices home.)

Research into this question has found that the greatest benefits of providing students with mobile devices come when they are allowed to bring these devices home. If students are allowed to do so, they are able to extend their learning day well beyond the classroom. Additionally, students who are allowed to bring their devices home develop a deeper respect for the device, resulting in fewer lost or damaged devices.

What about Students Without Home Internet Access?

GirlWithTabletInLibrary reduced 1024x682 Planning for Mobile Learning: Part 1It is estimated that at least 20 percent of US households do not have internet access. This means that many students do not have access to the internet once they leave schools. With many mobile device applications requiring internet to work (some even require internet simply to read a book), what can be done to ensure these students don’t fall behind?

Many schools that move to 1:1 extend their school library hours so that students can stay after school to complete their work before heading home. This provides students with a safe place to complete their work.

Other schools have teamed up with internet or data plan providers to provide low cost coverage to these students. With this plan, students are able to complete their work even after they have returned home for the day, ensuring they receive the most benefits possible from these mobile devices.

Another option is the MediaCAST Mobile Learning Content Manager. With this application, students are able to download videos, etextbooks and other digital resources stored within the MediaCAST system directly to their device, allowing them to access the resource without internet access. This means that wherever they go, students will be able to work on their school work without worrying about internet access.

For most schools, a combination of these choices will provide the best options for students. If none of these are feasible, rest assured that students are resourceful and will find a way to access the internet once they leave school. With many coffee shops, fast food restaurants and public libraries offering free wi-fi, there is no shortage of places students can go in a pinch.

What are your thoughts on the topics discussed today?

Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two of Planning for Mobile Learning

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