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Moving Toward Mobile: Using Technology to Become Globally Connected

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge

Moving Toward Mobile - 2011 ASCD Annual Conference

Acalanes Union High School District in Lafayette, Calif., allows students to use mobile technology in traditional courses like biology and English. Students are able to watch YouTube videos about immigration reform or listen to NPR podcasts discussing the political uprising in Egypt because the district passed a bond, Measure E, which allows schools to "replace and update instructional technology and create dedicated 10-year technology fund to keep classrooms up to date."

In their session "Moving Toward Mobile: iPads, iPod Touches, E-Readers, and More," Cheryl Davis and John Nickerson led a presentation about how their district incorporated technology like iPads—"the first tablet computer"—and iPod Touches into the classrooms of high schools like Miramonte, Las Lamos, and Acalanes, and how the technology matches their mission as a district.

"[We want] students to be able to use today's tools in learning," said Cheryl Davis to an engaged crowd of onlookers.

Some audience members voiced concern about students using mobile devices to engage in personal activities like social networks or checking personal e-mails during class time. Nickerson gave a response that made audience members laugh.

"If we believe that they engaged for the 50 minutes without iPads ..." Nickerson didn't finish the statement because many of the audience members were laughing.

Technology may be one way of grasping the attention of high school students who may use mobile devices outside the classroom. Through funding, the high schools in the district have iPod Touch and iPad learning labs. Students can use iTunes U, an Apple program that allows students to watch free educational movies, lectures, and more with just the touch of the screen. But the students aren't the only ones using the new technology. The staff and teachers are using mobile devices more efficiently and effectively. For example, the teachers in the Acalanes district have a summer institute in which they learn how to use the devices their students are using. The teachers are encouraged to take the devices home and develop ways to incorporate the use of technology into their curriculum.

"Put technology into student hands," said a technology specialist to presenter Cheryl Davis.

Wendy Steward, of Bassett Unified School District in San Gabriel Valley, Calif., believes that students should use technology in classrooms.

"I think kids will become more engaged," said Steward when discussing why classrooms should embrace technology. "Kids are already using their phones in class; [they] might as well use it toward [education in] the classroom."

"[Students are] already plugged in; we [teachers] need to catch up. We need to meet them where they are," said Judith Boyle of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


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