The flexibility of mobile devices is without doubt what affords them their great potential. Whether you have a 1:1 tablet arrangement, a bank devices or a single device per class, there are many possibilities for creative use. A mobile learner takes advantage of this flexibility; they use it individually, with a buddy and in groups, taking it to where the learning is – to the playground, to the library, on the excursion – and using it in a variety of ways – as a source of information, as a tool for recording learning, as a method of expression or a channel for collaboration. This post aims to exemplify just some of these modes of use.
The SAMR model developed by Ruben R. Puentedura encourages teachers to move beyond simply substituting the mobile device for what they might otherwise do with another tool, and
‘enables teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of achievement for students’ (Beyond Substitution, 2011).
While this model is excellent in encouraging teachers to imagine creative new ways to engage students in constructing new understandings, it also provides a place for apps that simply present more traditional teaching strategies in innovative ways. The key as always is balance – and the seamless use of technology – so that it does not dominate the learning but merely enables it. Just as picking up a pencil does not disrupt the ‘flow’ of a lesson, but just enables the student to record their learning, so too should opening up an app on a mobile device not be the focus of the lesson, but just the process through which students access the information or learning opportunity.
The presentation below ‘A Day in the Life of a Mobile Learner’ seeks to present the many ways a mobile device (in this scenario, an iPad) could be used throughout a ‘typical’ day for a student in the middle years of primary school. Below the presentation is a more detailed account of the day, with suggestion as to how each of the activities fit within the SAMR model, to enhance understanding of how the model looks in action.
If you cannot view the Prezi (above) please use this link.
A day in the life of a mobile learner: the adventures of Kid A
The app images link directly to the page where you can download these apps. For other useful teaching apps, check out the ResourceLink Pinterest board for apps.
Kid A goes to the school library, and borrows an iPad from the ‘Gadget Garage’. He then chooses ‘Fred and Ted’s Road Trip’ to download onto the Overdrive Media Console. When the bell rings, he returns the book on Overdrive, and then returns the iPad, before moving to class.
First up Kid A participates in Literacy Block.
Kid A participates in a number of different activities.
The first thing Kid A does is practise his morning talk with a buddy. He recorded the talk using Dragon Dictation, and then pasted the text into the the VisioPrompt app, which converts the iPad into a teleprompter. Having his talk on the teleprompter enables him to feel more comfortable when talking in front of the class, and also gives additional reading practise. This is an example of Augmentation, as the apps allow Kid A to do the same task (morning talk) but with functional improvement.
Kid A has a spelling list of words that he practises by typing into WordFoto. The act of typing the words in and searching for a picture that connects or represents the words helps Kid A remember them better. When he completes his wordfoto, he places the picture into the Dropbox app, so that his teacher can print it out later for him to take home. Having a visual stimulus assists Kid A and encourages him to spend more time practising his spelling words. This is an example of Modification – although the task of recalling spelling words is the same, the method used is significantly modified by the Wordfoto app.
Kid A now joins with three classmates and plays Futaba, using the pre-prepared list of vocabulary words and images his group compiled the previous week. Futaba is unique, as it allows four students to participate in a game using the one iPad simultaneously. This is an example of Substitution, as there have always been word games that students have played where they match words with images – the iPad in this case simply provides a different channel for delivering the game.
Next week, the students in Kid A’s class will be exploring the instructional text type of recipes. In preparation for this, Kid A works through the Cookie Doodle app, reading each stage of the recipe and noting the verbs used at the beginning of each instruction. The Cookie Doodle app is an example of Redefinition – the task is redefined through the use of this app, as it allows a level of interactivity with the recipe that would only otherwise be possible through actually cooking.
After morning tea, Kid A starts his maths rotations.
During this time, he works individually and in groups, completing number skill activities and also more open ended problem solving tasks.
First, Kid A practises his ‘add to 10’ skills, playing the game Mathris, a number facts game based on Tetris. (Substitution).
Working with a partner, Kid A then uses ScreenChomp to develop an explanation of how to multiply by two digit numbers. This whiteboard app records the verbal explanation and the writing on the screen and converts it to a video, which Kid A emails to his teacher. The video forms an excellent piece of evidence for the teacher in assessing Kid A’s understanding of multiplication. It also allows the teacher to pinpoint if and where there are any difficulties (i.e. if Kid A needs more practise with basic maths facts, or in remembering the strategy for multiplying double digits etc). Previously this opportunity to watch and listen as a child explains the process of completing an equation was limited, as teachers did not have the time to sit one on one with every child – therefore this is an example of Modification – the app provides data gathering in a way that was previously extremely difficult.
To wind up their maths rotations, Kid A leads a whole class game invented by the teacher, using the speaking calculator app. Another example of Augmentation, as the presence of the app allows for a functional improvement on previous games using calculators, by the presence of the ‘speaking’ feature.
Time for the class to begin working on their integrated unit, which is one on sustainability.
The class is exploring ways that they can change their school environment so that it better reflects principles of sustainability.
They begin with a simple ‘substitution’ exercise – working in small groups to complete a KWL graphic organiser on the iPad, using the Tools 4 Students app. This is emailed to the teacher for later use in a whole class activity.
Next, Kid A buddies up with a friend, and walks around the school, using the iPad to take photos of parts of the playground where they think environmental practices could be implemented. They return to the classroom, and use the Skitch app to annotate their photos, explaining why they took the photo and what change they believe is needed. This combination of activities is an example of Modification – although it could previously have been completed using a digital camera and pen and paper, the use of the iPad camera and Skitch app have made the learning far more about the process rather than the tools.
Finally, the class adds the finishing touches to a display for their upcoming parent morning. This display is two-fold. Firstly, the students wrote poems about the school environment, and published them as posters for the classroom walls. They then recited these poems to the class, while a classmate recorded their presentation using the video recorder on the iPad. Today, the students use the Aurasma Lite app to attach the video to the posters, so that parents can view through the Aurasma app and see their recitations. This is an example of Augmented Reality, and is definitely a task that falls into the Redefinition category of the SAMR model, as it was not in any way possible prior to the use of augmented reality apps in the classroom.
Further information on Augmented Reality and augmented reality apps will be featured in an upcoming blog post, so if this activity has intrigued you, stay tuned!
The afternoon session brings Health and Physical Education and Art.
The HPE and Art activities are simple examples of how basic substitution apps such as PE Games and FacesiMake can be used in creative ways that encourage higher order thinking and collaboration skills.
The PE Games app is essentially a HPE Games book that is accessible on the iPad. The flexibility comes from being able to add your own games to the ones already included. Students can be encouraged to work collaboratively by providing them with access to the app and the required resources (e.g. balls, hoops, beanbags), and asking them to work together to understand and play a game that is randomly chosen by shaking the iPad/iPod touch gently.
The FacesiMake app allows students to exercise creativity in designing a face using innumerable number of items, including pieces of fruit, household implements, stationary items…the options are endless. Suggesting that students use this app to create a new character for a story that they are to write, or to imitate a famous work of art adds another layer to what is essentially a very fun and non-messy way of creating unique images of faces.
Kid A’s day is over too soon! He has never been as engaged, and during the day, he has worked independently, in partnership with his buddy and in small groups, as well as in whole class settings. He can’t wait to see what apps he might use tomorrow…but that is a blog post for another day!