Anytime anywhere learning (aal) is not a new concept and it is mainly associated with online learning. This concept can be a supplement to the ongoing learning process or can be an opportunity for those who cannot have a proper education. I want to take this concept and blend it with “Use of Mobile Devices in Education” to get a creative idea.
Mobile devices can be used in several ways inside the classroom. Outside the school you can use them to assign a task , send a file and so on. We can use mobile devices and social media to create a relationship with real life and the lesson content, but is this really necessary and is it a good idea?
It has always been hard for teachers (especially for high school teachers) to relate every single topic or concept to real life. Despite its difficulty, it is necessary because students are not eager to learn something that has no direct relation to daily life. (Actually this is true for adults too so I can’t blame them.) One way to establish a relation is to give students real life examples during the class time if possible. Science lessons have an advantage because they have laboratories. Some schools have classes or rooms specially designed for other lessons but this is not always the case.
As a mathematics teacher I see lots of real life math examples while I’m walking outside, eating, driving and so on. Unfortunately, it is not possible to bring those examples into the classroom but I have a smart phone in my pocket and it enables me to record whatever that example is by taking a picture, recording a video or recording its sound and then I can save that file to my computer and show it in the classroom. I can also access to the internet with this device, which allows me to send this example to my facebook/google+/twitter accounts where my students are following me. Let’s have a look at the following examples and see whether it is a good idea or not.
Suppose you are an English teacher and you are in a cafe to have something to eat and drink. The waiter comes to receive your order. You look at his name tag and see that his name is Oscar W. I think this is a good opportunity to take a picture of that name tag and send it to your students with a message like this; “Hey, look who I have met today. Have you recognized him?” Your students will begin to reply your message by asking/giving information about Oscar Wilde. One student may ask if the waiter’s physical appearance is similar to O.W. or one student may ask if the waiter has ever read one of O.W.’s books and so on. It is a natural training opportunity, isn’t it?
Now, suppose you are a math teacher and you are in the same cafe drinking coffee in a huge cup. You are a curious person and you just wonder if your stomach is big enough to drink that coffee in less than a minute. So, you measure the side lengths, take a video of the cup from all angles and send it to your students with the numbers. You can add a question like this; “Can any of you drink this coffee in less than a minute? Are your stomachs big enough for this?” Wait for the replies. One student will find the volume of the cup, the other one will do some research and find the volume of human stomach, etc. Some will just send funny and maybe irrelevant messages but you can be sure that they will be following the relevant ones.
Another example; you are a history teacher. You are walking in the street and you saw a plate on a building which says the building was built in 1930. Take a picture of it and send it to your students with a question like this; “I saw this building today. It was beautiful. I wonder who put money to build such a wonderful building during the great depression.” I think you will have many different replies, right?
By doing this you can show your students;
1) How social media and mobile devices can be used in a productive way.
2) How they can be lifelong learners.
3) How your lesson is connected to real life.
4) What are the proper behaviors and acceptable replies in virtual world.
Although this article is about the third one, I have to mention the importance of the last one. Using social media is a controversial method. You may come up with undesired situations easily so you have to be very careful. If you look at the bright side, it is an opportunity to be a role model to your students and teach them how to use these online tools properly and effectively. However, it is possible to face with a lawsuit. As far as I know, in some states in the USA, teachers are not allowed to use social media tools.