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PHILADELPHIA, United States – In 2011, mobile technology has penetrated just about every facet of our lives. It seems like a natural thing now, as you leave home in the morning to grab your keys, wallet and your mobile phone. When we leave our phones behind it feels weird because for a brief moment, we’re out of touch. Texting is now common place in almost every social situation. So, where is one place where mobile devices have yet to make an impact: classroom education.

This is especially true here in the United States. Interestingly, mobile adoption even amongst elementary school aged children is on the rise. Kids as young as six and seven are getting phones so their parents can reach them. Whether it’s the rise of kids going between divorced parents or plans getting affordable enough, children are regularly using mobile devices. However, these mobile pieces of technology are, in most cases, forbidden in the classroom.

Teachers have grand plans of how they’d like to utilize mobile technology in their experiences with students, but there’s a balance of allowing new technology in while not turning class time into goofing around by engaging in text messaging and idle phone chatter.

I interviewed educators and administrators in American schools and gained insight into how teachers would like to utilize mobile phones in the classrooms, and the results may surprise you.

The first method of utilizing mobile phones is to gain feedback. Teachers often lecture and engage in polling the class by asking a question to gauge comprehension. However, it’s normally the confident and outgoing students who raise their hand.  What about the silent majority that have an answer but feel too intimidated to put their hand up? The educators I interviewed would like to utilize tablets and mobile phones to enable two-way communication either by SMS, a custom application or even Twitter. By utilizing polls and instant quizes, teachers can get a cross-section of the class to see how the information is propagating throughout the population of the class.

Secondly, teachers would like to extend their reach to one-on-one instruction. Some teachers across the 50 states are lucky enough to have interactive whiteboards in their classroom. These computer-attached whiteboards are great for accessing and displaying Internet content to a classroom, but if every student in the class had a tablet or mobile phone, teachers could give assignments from the whiteboard to each student and get instant reporting back via assessment tools. This would further enhance the purchase made in the whiteboard and meet each student on an individual basis, no matter what level they’re currently on.

Lastly, teachers would like to use mobile technology to enable creativity. As students get into middle and high school, their creative juices start to flow. Nowadays, with mobile phones having amazing cameras and video capture capability, teachers seek to let students use these tools to enhance class projects and let them use their imaginations. Remember that video production class you had back in school?  Now, students only need a mobile phone and maybe a computer to create and share amazing content and ideas.

Obviously, we can’t have students on their mobile phones constantly. However, if given the right project and circumstances, mobile phones and tablets can enhance learning and engage students that might otherwise be lost. To gain further insight, I asked two teachers to spell out their desires for mobile tech in their classrooms and also what factors stand in the way.

Are you a parent of school-aged children?  Would you let them use their mobile in school?  Why or why not?

Photo credit: Bitterjug