Handheld Devices: Smartphones and Tablets
In the words of the ASCD article, "There's a lot of promise here, but there are barriers to overcome to realize that promise."
Make no mistake, smartphones will invade education. We now need to move on to "how do we best use them?"
Sponsored by NASA, GLOBE Observer is an international network of citizen scientists and scientists working together to learn more about our shared environment and changing climate. To participate, you and your students can download the GLOBE Observer app and submit regular observations. GLOBE Observer currently accepts observations of Clouds, Mosquito Habitats, Land Cover and Trees with planned expansion to other types of data in the future.
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process. It provides grade level-appropriate, interdisciplinary activities and investigations about the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and soil/pedosphere, developed by the scientific community and validated by teachers. Their goal is to connect students, teachers, scientists, and citizens from different parts of the world to conduct real, hands-on science about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective.
Bob Tinker, founder of the Concord Consortium, has pioneered the use of remote sensing devices, linked to computers, and hands-on physics experiments. (Activities for both these approaches are available from Concord as well as TERC, where Bob prototyped these projects.). Now he and his colleagues have turned their attention to the use of handheld computers to which sensors could be attached for real-time investigation and data collection. In keeping with other new technology dialog among participants will be encouraged too. The goal of one laptop to one student will produce ubiquitous computing. Will the cost be justified?
The convergence of these powerful technologies will allow students to become authentic scientists and collaborate with their peers and established scientists.This work is a wonderful exemplar of the judicious use of technology as a tool to promote motivation and understanding by synergizing real and virtual worlds, heretofore the province of universities.
The Concord Consortium is designing a virtual high school in parallel with these other projects. Your students may be able to collaborate directly in these studies online or replicate the experience in your district.
In this article, TeachThought looks at 11 sample education BYOT (Bring Your Own Technologies) policies. The goal to help you craft or update a BYOT policy for your school.
In The 50 Best Smartphone Apps For Teachers Arranged By Category, Terry Heick discovers a seemingly endless collection of smartphone apps that teachers can put to work in the classroom and beyond, creating a powerhouse of back-to-school mobile tools. A great where-do-I-start resource.
Jennifer Roland in the ISTE L&L Dec/Jan 2003-04 distinguishes the features of two models for using potable technology, a lab approach and one tool for each student.
The lab model imparts the concept that such a device is like any other learning tool. When used in pairs, the handheld became a natural tool even when alternatives were available. The lab assistants can ensure that the tools are in top form for coming tasks.
The one-to-one allows schools to cultivate a learner-centered curriculum, such as Web resources not available in the classroom, under the control of the teacher. The ever-present side effect means that learning can occur any-time-any-place and helps bridge the Digital Divide.
This librarian suggests that BOTH MODELS can be used as appropriate.
That new tablet or phone you're students are bringing to school can go more than share photos and check Twitter. They can be a great study partner. Includes apps to take better notes, crack that mind-bending math problem, and cram for tests with digital flash cards or shared study guides. (Use the yellow arrows to move between pages.)
The National Science Teachers Association has developed some solid curriculum to take advantage of laptop capabilities.
A major tool, in tandem with corresponding software, is a probe sensor. For instance, different sensors are available to collect data, such as temperature, pH, pressure, voltage, dissolved oxygen and with just another click the data is transmitted to a computer for data graphing and manipulation.
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has another look at the promise and issues surrounding smartphones and tablets in education. "There's a lot of promise here, but there are barriers to overcome to realize that promise."
During this century, currently unimaginable technologies will emerge to advance learning. Like Bob Tinker, it is our job to keep a lookout for applications of the technology to learning rather than wizardry.