EDU 625: No worries, there’s an app for that! Mobile Learning and its impact on Education

“Outside the classroom, cell phones, PDAs, PocketPCs, Internet access is everywhere because we need it and use it in our information driven lives. But inside the classroom, the very skills humans need to succeed are discouraged and viewed with alarm. So schools do not teach effective use of Google, of text-messaging, of instant-messaging. They don’t teach collaboration. They barely teach communication outside the stilted prose only academics use. No wonder students are prepared for nothing except more school.” – Ira Socol (2006)


Mobile technologies are more prominent in the world now more than ever. Need to look something up on your phone? Just talk to Siri. No Siri? No worries, there’s an app for that!

There are many different definitions of what mobile learning, or m-learning is, but the one thing that can be agreed upon is that “mobile learning has come to people’s attention because mobile devices are portable, ubiquitous, easily accessible and used by many people” (Keskin and Metcalf, 2011, p. 202).

Below, you will find an excellent PowToon presentation that briefly gives a description of what mobile learning is and its implications for learning. This video explains the positives of utilizing mobile learning as well as some obstacles that teachers might face when utilizing mobile learning in the classroom.

Personally, I have never had an experience using mobile technologies as a learning tool, other than using Blackboard Mobile Learn on my iPhone. However, I have not really used the app that frequently throughout my Post classes, especially when it comes to the discussion board because I find that sometimes it can be difficult to navigate regarding responding to posts.

When I was younger, I didn’t not have a cell phone until I was able to drive and when I got that phone, I was only able to make and receive calls…no texting, no Internet, not even a voicemail. I had that phone up until I got my first teaching job in 2011 and got an iPhone and brought myself into the technology world. Overall, though, I survived.

With that being said, however, I strongly believe that there is an urgent need for mobile technologies in education. I have two issues related to mobile technology for learning that I am concerned about. First, one of my concerns is for my students. I say to myself, “What if I have students that are just like me?” I didn’t have a cell phone in middle school. A lot of my students can’t even afford new shirts, nevermind a piece of mobile technology. The benefit, however, is that the students can potentially have the opportunity to use iPads….once we find out how to get them at our school.

The second concern of mine is how to propose the integration of mobile learning in my classroom when my administrators are very adamant about no mobile devices at all. The district I work in does have a no mobile device policy to begin with, however, students have used their mobile devices in schools negatively and because of incidents that have occurred I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

How would you approach this issue if you were in my situation?

Despite the challenges that I need to overcome, I am not going to let it stop my ambition to enhance my students’ learning using mobile technologies. This week’s learning challenge was all about utilizing a mobile app to create a learning activity for a specific learning objective. Rather than completely reinventing the wheel, I thought about taking what I already have and updating it to make it current with the apps that are available.

In my research, I came across a FREE app called, “Fooducate”. Fooducate allows the user to set weight loss goals for themselves, scan and search for foods, track calories and food intake for the day/week, chat with other users, and make comments on products. Also, by using the scan and search feature, the app also gives grades and suggestions on the products that are much better than the ones that were scanned. The video below gives a brief overview of what the app is all about.

For my learning activity, I decided to incorporate the Fooducate app for the homework portion of the activity. 7th Graders in the Family and Consumer Sciences class do a Choose My Plate activity where they are required to track their food for three days, including beverages. The students then have to input everything into the Choose My Plate ‘Super Tracker’ and that system then generates how much they have been eating from the various food groups, what they need to stay away from, etcetera. When the students write down their intake and then go to put it in the Super Tracker, they often run into issues such as not being able to find the foods that they ate and then have to kind of make up the foods, which leads to a skewed result. With the Fooducate app, it takes away all of that confusion and all of the issues and it makes it so much easier to have more accurate results when inputting the foods in Super Tracker. If the Super Tracker does not recognize it still, the students can go on the Fooducate app and input the information from there onto the Super Tracker.

It might seem like a lot of work but once the students get into it, especially with Fooducate, it is so easy!

Although Unit 7 is complete, I intend on searching for more apps I can use in the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom. I strongly believe that mobile learning is the way of the future and educators need to embrace and take advantage of the teaching and learning opportunity.

References

Keskin, N., & Metcalf, D. (2011).  The current perspectives, theories, and practices of mobile       learning. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(2), 202-208.

 

 

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