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 etc. 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 high school teachers) to relate every single topic or concept with real life. You can feel the necessity of it because students are not eager to learn something that has no direct relation in daily life. (Actually this is true for adults too so I can’t blame them.) One way to establish a relation is showing 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 outside walking, eating, driving… Unfortunately it is not possible to bring those examples into the classroom but I have a smart phone in my pocket and it means I can record whatever that example is by taking a picture or by recording a video or by recording its sound and then I can save that file to my computer and show it in the class. But wait, I can access to internet with this device so why don’t I send this example to my facebook/google+/twitter accounts where my students are following me. Let’s try to see if it is a good idea or not by investigating some examples.
Suppose you are an English teacher and you are in a cafe to have some coffee. The waiter comes and asks to get 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; “Hey, look who I met today. Did you recognize 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 was similar to O.W. or one student may ask if the waiter has ever read one of O.W.’s books and so on. A natural, free from curriculum discussion.
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 1 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 “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 make a 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 one; you are a history teacher. You are walking in the street and you saw a a plate on a building which says that building was built in 1930. Take a picture of it and send it to your students with a question like “I saw this building today. It was beautiful. I wonder who put money to build such a wonderful building during 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 was 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. On the other side it is possible to face with a law suit. As far as I know in some states, in USA, teachers are not allowed to use social media tools.