There have been a lot of ideas around the use of devices and the move forward in mobile learning, but debates still seem to rage over many things such as a computer lab/ICT suite vs. desktops/laptops permanently in classroom, tools vs. gadgets and so on. We, as teachers, have to weigh up the value that is added to our students' learning when we utilise a teaching tool well, measured against us using something for the sheer luxury of saying we have tried it.
So how can we ensure that our students are able to glean the very utmost from the use of devices on their learning pathways?
1. Know the device, but don't worry about knowing MORE about it than the students! Often as teachers, we become daunted by what we DON'T know and this can stop us from actually allowing our students to be the experts. It is not important to know all of the answers - we never will!
2. It is about the skills and knowledge NOT the device! So often teachers get this around the wrong way - we give the devices to our students to play games or to just 'check them out', or we give them a gizmo or gadgets or a glamorous activity that has plenty of bang for its buck and neglect to manage the learning outcome. Why do they do the task? It's all about the learning and this is just the method of delivery. Try to remember that not that many years ago, a stick and the sand were the tools of the time...they worked well when the OUTCOME drove the learning too!
3. Plan your sequence of skills thoroughly and then let change occur. Plan to allow the outcome to drive the next steps in the learning. The devices sometimes overshadow this process and we as teachers have the power over this part of the learning, so we should make sure we really do guide the learner all the way through the scaffolding of new skills.
4. Teach digital responsibility at all times. Although the devices may not be online at all times, it is essential to teach small bites of digital responsibility as we go. Little and often will help to really embed the need to be considerate users of devices, from online safety to appropriate use of tools and so on. This needs to weave into the very tapestry of our learners' lives so that it becomes a part of who they are as learners.
5. Let the kids play! We know that research shows time and again the power of play. By allowing the learner to explore, test, try and discover on a device, we actually hand the power to control learning back to them, we show them that we trust them to be responsible and we actually allow them to synthesize. The NEW learning is what they can then share with others - children have an amazing way of finding the short-cuts and discovering new and wonderful things without any input from us! They just need the time to try!
Oh, and don't forget to have some 'play' time for yourself too, this is a wonderful way to find out new things for yourself. Well, why should the kids have ALL the fun...?!