English teaching & learning! Tips, reflections & discussions!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Using mobile devices in the classroom

A week ago, the British educator Steve Wheeler posted on Twitter the following crucial question:
We have the technology. Do we have the pedagogy?
My answer to this question would be 'no', although we're struggling hard to find it. And as far as I can see reading blogs & tweets on the web, this is a global concern.

Maybe it's just a matter of time as we're still learning how to deal with all this tech issues, but by now we should have something else than just this talk of the potential of technology on Education.

Mobile Phones allowed
in São Paulo - Brazil

In the Brazilian case, I'd say that we have bits of technology and even smaller pieces of pedagogy.  Yes, we have a few computers at our schools and the students have their own gadgets, like smartphones, but I haven't seen it at work the way it should. In São Paulo, for instance, there's a State law forbidding the use of mobile phones in schools. But what if a teacher could create a learning situation in which a mobile gadget would be useful? Isn't it a paradox that they don't allow the use of the most common and handy device and still claim that more technology should be part of the school routines? Of course, there are many reasons Mobile Phones can cause trouble  in the classroom, but the fact is that the students do bring their mobiles, even though they're not allowed. So, why don't we use them?

A student using her own device
during the English class. 
On this direction, there's this BYOD (bring your own device) trend, which I've been looking at with some enthusiasm. And I gave it a first try this past week. I asked my students at the public school where I teach to record themselves and a classmate saying a few sentences out loud. And to do that they had to use their mobile phones. I even recorded myself saying the sentences out loud and shared the file from my mobile to theirs via bluetooth technology. It wasn't the most revolutionary thing in the world but it worked. It was a pretty cool class.

And yes, I'm sorry that I broke a State law... 

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