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The Innovative Classroom – Let the (mobile) phones ring in

Soren Kaplan

(LinkedIn Pulse) – In the melee of getting kids prepared to head back to school, it’s easy to overlook the bigger disruptive changes happening in education nationally and even globally.

Though we’re all pretty well aware of the social, economic and behavioral challenges educators face, few of us are in the loop around how they’re being solved.

Many teachers struggle to maintain students’ attention. So it makes sense that with kids’ obsession to games, Instagram and texting, mobile phones have been banned from most classrooms to allow for “un-distracted” learning.

Concerns about phones in class are understandable. But banning phones may actually be a dis-service to our ever tech connected youth. Why not leverage the fact that most kids these days have mini-computers in their pockets? Mobile phones give teachers the power to increase student engagement and more effectively assess learning on a daily basis. Some new educational tech companies and savvy educators are setting the pace, utilizing and advocating for just that.

Exit Ticket is a great tool for assigning tasks and assessing student understanding. Students are given a registration code that brings them to a secure area reserved just for their specific class. They find the day’s assignment and tap their responses on their phones. Teachers are able to grade their answers via phone or computer and can see data showing how close each student came to meeting the objectives for the day.

Edmodo, known as “Facebook for the classroom,” and also available in app form, allows students to see and interact with content on a virtual class wall, where teachers post assignments. In this secure space, students can work to solve problems and share information, or ask questions about a task at hand, while working at their own pace.

Other options for cell phone use may make teachers’ jobs a bit easier.

Castle Learning, an online review, assessment, and reporting system, allows educators to quickly generate standards-aligned quizzes with security features such as scrambling questions or allowing the quiz to be taken only during a certain time frame (like during class). The software provides instant item analysis to see which topics and skills students are having a difficult time understanding.

Kahoot is another tool that emphasizes connected learning through games and cooperation that connects students with other student across the globe.

While it may seem that many teachers and schools resist disruptive technology and change, it’s worth remembering that several decades ago, many were also hesitant to utilize another new and innovative technology in the classroom – since they were convinced it would undermine learning. The tool was the TI-83, a graphing calculator that is now used in virtually every math classroom across the country – and that today allows students to work on far more complex problems than they every could have using the “old school” way.

 

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