Emerging Mobile Technologies for K-12 Classrooms

More educators are considering the use of mobile devices in the classroom, but some critics feel such devices are more of a distraction or annoyance than a learning tool.

Emerging Mobile Technologies for K-12 Classrooms

Thursday, September 3, 11 a.m. Eastern time

Because of their low cost and ubiquity, an increasing number of educators are considering the use of mobile devices, such as cellphones, netbooks, GPS systems, digital recorders, and MP3 players, in the classroom. When harnessed properly, supporters say, these devices can open up new educational opportunities for students. But some critics feel such devices are more of a distraction or annoyance than a learning tool. Our guests discussed which mobile technologies are best for the classroom, when they should or should not be used, and which emerging mobile technologies will have a significant impact on K-12 education.

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Shawn Gross, the project director for Project K-Nect, an initiative that aims to help at-risk students increase their math skills through smartphones
Judy Brown, a mobile learning analyst and the curator of mLearnopedia.com, a Web site of resources for educational mobile technologies
Katie Ash, staff writer, Education Week and Digital Directions, will moderate this chat.

Emerging Mobile Technologies for K-12 Classrooms(09/03/2009)


10:24 Web Person: Casey: Today’s chat, Emerging Moblie Technologies for K-12 Classrooms, is open for questions, so please start submitting them now. The chat will begin at 11 a.m. Thank you for joining us.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s chat on emerging mobile technologies.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

We’ve got lots of questions coming in, but I’d like to start by asking our guests to introduce themselves.

11:01 Moderator: Katie Ash: Judy - why don’t you start?

11:01 Judy Brown: My name is Judy Brown and I have been involved in mobile learning since 1996. I retired from the University of WIsconsin in 1996 and have been working full-time in mobile learning since then. I am pretty passionate about the opportunities. Although I have worked with some K-12 schools, most of my experiences have been with higher education and corporations and currently with government.

11:01 Judy Brown: In 2005 I was invited to participate in Japan by UNESCO and ADBI to help emerging countries put together their mobile learning plans. At that time I set up http://mlearnopedia.com and still manage it. We can learn a lot from the global mobile learning projects!

11:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent!

11:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: Is Shawn here yet?

11:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: Hopefully he’ll be here in a few minutes. Let’s get started with some of these questions.

11:03 [Comment From Guest]
How do you get teachers to allow students to use mobile technology when they are sometimes reluctant to use the technology they already have at their disposal - interactive white boards, graphing calculators, even laptop computers?


Moderator: Katie Ash:

This is a very important question - Judy, do you have any suggestions about how to secure teacher buy-in to mobile technologies?

11:05 Judy Brown: This depends upon the age group. The stats that I have seen indicate a very large percentage of students who are already carrying these devices and today are being asked to leave them at the door. I have seen engagement really increase.

11:05 Judy Brown: Teached buy in has been more difficult than student buy in from my experiences. In today’s news: NZ School - using cell phones, students are personalising their learning, sharing files with teachers and keeping parents up to date with their progress. See the lead story at http://mlearnopedia.com

11:06 Judy Brown: Sorry - that was teacher, not teached.

11:06 Moderator: Katie Ash: No problem. I think that sort of relates to Stacey’s question.

11:06 [Comment From Stacey]
Most students know how to use mobile devices. It’s the teachers I worry about. How can teachers who don’t even have a cellphone be expected to teach students about using mobile devices?

11:07 Moderator: Katie Ash: Is part of the problem that teachers aren’t familiar with or don’t have adequate training to use the technologies available?

11:07 Judy Brown: As with all technologies, there definitely has to be administrative support for teachers.


Moderator: Katie Ash:


11:08 Judy Brown: Many of the projects I have seen have spawned from the teacher use of say an iPod. They have seen the tremendous educational opportunity and have moved ahead.

11:09 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent. Here’s a question from “Confused Educator.”

11:09 [Comment From Confused Educator]
Can you tell us about what the specific wireless technologies are? How is a 3G network different than regular wireless, for instance. I’m confused by all the terms floating out there!

11:10 Moderator: Katie Ash: What kinds of technologies are out there, Judy? And is there a place where educators can go to learn more about wireless terminology?

11:10 Judy Brown: 3G is cellular broadband. The nice thing today about these devices is the they can support moving seamlessly from cellular to WiFi without the user doing anything.

11:11 Judy Brown: This Spring I pulled together K-12 discussion topics and examples for our state (Wis) charter school association. You can access the slides at http://www.slideshare.net/judyb/wcsa-mobile-learning-k12 There are lots of examples.

11:11 Moderator: Katie Ash: Perfect!

11:11 Moderator: Katie Ash: A lot of our guests seem to have questions about classroom management.

11:11 [Comment From Stacey]
If we incorporate cellphones into the curriculum, how can teachers be sure their students are using their cellphones for classroom-related activities? I’m afraid students will be texting and only pretending to do their work. With class sizes so big in many schools, it’s nearly impossible to look over everyone’s shoulder.

11:12 Judy Brown: For unknown technology terms I usually go to http://webopedia.com or http://wikipedia.org. Teachers should not have to know all this technical detail though.

11:13 Judy Brown: I hear this comment a lot. I personally believe that we should be teaching these skills along with other 21st century skills. Liz Kolb has addressed these issues a lot in her blog at www.cellphonesinlearning.com/ and has a proposed ACP.

11:14 Judy Brown: There is an article on mlearnopedia.com about Mary Passage Middle School where the students helped draft their own AUP. “Last year the school ran out of calculators needed for a math exam, so the teacher let a student use the calculator function on his cell phone. The student was excited to use a phone instead of a calculator. He found 19 of his 22 students had phones”

11:15 Judy Brown: Sorry I am trying to think and type too quickly. That was AUP - acceptable use policy


Moderator: Katie Ash:

excellent. That definitely plays a huge role in what students and teachers are allowed to use in the classroom.

11:16 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question that relates to acceptable use from Rachel

11:16 Judy Brown: Not about devices, but capabilities

About the experience -- not technology

11:17 [Comment From Rachel]
How are districts reconciling the IT departments security policies with sound educational practices involving technology? Here in Utah, many schools block all blogging, some block nings, and most cannot access YouTube unless they are at home, yet each of those has something positive to offer for instruction. (Sorry if this sends twice!)

11:17 Moderator: Katie Ash: What do you think, Judy? Is this an issue that a lot of schools are still grappling with?

11:18 Judy Brown: These are issues being addressed all over. Again Liz’s blog has some excellent discussions.

11:18 Judy Brown: Not about devices, but capabilities

About the experience -- not technology

11:20 Judy Brown: Did I lose connection?

11:21 Judy Brown: One of the best documents read is Pockets of Potential - www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/pdf/pockets_of_potential.pdf

11:21 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent.

11:21 Moderator: Katie Ash: Lots of good resources for our guests.

11:21 Judy Brown: They state the five goals of mobile learning as:
To encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning.
To reach under-served children.
To improve 21st-century social interactions.
To fit with learning environments.
To enable a personalized learning experience.

11:22 Judy Brown: Another good one for some videos is 21st Century Education - www.mobilelearninginstitute.org/21stcenturyeducation/index.html

11:22 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent!

11:22 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s another issue on lots of people’s mind - funding.

11:22 [Comment From interested librarian]
Are there grants that schools can apply to for funding of technological tools? While cell phones are great, not every kid has one and then the functions are going to be different so you start to run into the haves and have-nots. Funding so that students receive the same equipment and the learning is standardized seems to make sense.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Are schools providing the technology for the students?


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Or are students tapping into the resources they already have?

11:23 Moderator: Katie Ash: Or is it a mix?

11:24 Judy Brown: First of all not all students need to have their own, although that is preferred. I have hears and seen several grants. When I was at the UW we received a Star School grant for 3 years on augmented reality games on handhelds - see http://lgl.gameslearningsociety.org/argh.php

11:24 Judy Brown: I would say that it is definitely a mix.

11:24 [Comment From Megan]
Liz Kolb’s books is Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education. www.iste.org/toytul

11:24 Moderator: Katie Ash: Thanks, Megan!

11:25 Judy Brown: Nokia has a nuber of projects funded, but mainly outside the U.S. You wouldn’t believe the learning activity going on the Africa.

11:26 Judy Brown: I agree with Megan. Liz concentrated exclusively on K-12 and is an excellent resource. I wish that Shawn was here as I know that he received a grant from Qualcomm and possibly others.

11:26 [Comment From Marian Casey]
With the introduction of any new technology, there will be pioneers who support the use of this tool and resistors that will do everything to dismiss its usefulness. Resistors can be anyone including teachers unions in some cases. How can we unite everyone around the benefits of these tools for learning?

11:27 Judy Brown: Check out MoLeNET - www.molenet.org.uk/projects/ - THe UK has funded I believe 132 projects this year.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

What do you think, Judy? Are there certain advantages of mobile technologies that you think will garner support from all sides?

11:28 Judy Brown: I believe that the only way we can address these doubters is to show the results from pilot projects. Although the aggressive Million project did not go forward (yet) in NYC, the results were awesome. I think you can still see information at millionnyc.org

11:29 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s another resource from Marian:

11:29 [Comment From Marian Casey]
There is a comprehensive report on the use of mobile learning in education which discussed the benefits and challenges of their use. See: www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/pdf/pockets_of_potential.pdf

11:29 Judy Brown: Sorry, I just checked millionnyc and it does not work. You can contct me if you want some details. (judy@mlearnopedia.com)

11:30 Judy Brown: Marian, that is the Pockets of Potential Ireferred to earlier. It is a great document.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Karen is interested to know about what kinds of mobile devices are making an impact in education.

11:31 [Comment From Karen Pegler]
I wonder if Judy could talk about the variety of mobile devices she has seen in classrooms-beyond cellphones and iPods

11:31 Moderator: Katie Ash: Is there anything else you see taking hold?

11:31 Project K-Nect: Katie, This is Shawn, I apolgozie for the delay

11:31 Moderator: Katie Ash: No problem, Shawn! Thanks for joining us.

11:32 Judy Brown: Most I have seen in K-12 are iPod and iPod Touches, but there are also some interesting projects using Nintendo DSs - mainly in Japan, but growing elsewhere.

11:32 Moderator: Katie Ash: Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and explain what Project K-nect is.

11:32 Project K-Nect: I am have an entire class of students with me that are also able to answer and questions as well as the teacher and instructional technology coordinator


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Oh, excellent.

11:33 Judy Brown: Shawn you may also be able to address the question of funding/grants better than I was albe to.

11:33 Project K-Nect: We are using custom designed problem set from the Math Forum

11:33 [Comment From Allen]
What are some of the math applications that you are using?

11:33 Project K-Nect: They are multimedia based problems that provide the students with access to real world applications


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Neat. Could you take a second, Shawn, to explain what Project K-Nect does, for those who are unfamiliar?

11:34 Judy Brown: Allen: For those using iPod Touches, check out Number Line which was the winner in the Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge for STEM apps


Project K-Nect:

Project K-Nect provides students with access to smartphones with customized content to support them in Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II

11:35 Moderator: Katie Ash: Excellent. And right now you’re working with ninth graders in North Carolina, is that correct?

11:35 Project K-Nect: The Project was funded as part of a grant by Qualcomm and we have over 200 students utlizing the devices across the state in NC


Project K-Nect:

they include 9th, 10th and 11 grade students


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Awesome! I think Judy was talking about those grants earlier.

11:36 Moderator: Katie Ash: Marian has a question for your students, Shawn.

11:36 [Comment From Marian Casey]
Question for Shawn’s students: Hi! What are your ideas for the use of mobile devices/cell phones in school?

11:37 Project K-Nect: Marian this is a good question


Project K-Nect:

Mobile devices in schools need to be customized for a specific instructional purpose, the devices are in the hands of all students

11:38 Judy Brown: From DIscovery Education “Cellphones text faster than email, spread video faster than cameras, and webcast in real time. They show assignments, document work, translate voice to text, podcast and interface with Web 2.0. Best thing: you and your students carry them already! "

11:38 Project K-Nect: As a result, we developed the program based upon the need expressed by students to have continious access to instructional resources, access to peers etc.


Project K-Nect:

Mobile Technologies as Judy just described can be utlized with a variety of tools

11:39 Project K-Nect: Let me give an example

11:39 Moderator: Katie Ash: Please do.

11:39 Project K-Nect: Our students take advantage of a piece of software that may have already been discussed called polleverywhere

11:40 Project K-Nect: The software enables a standard cell phone to become a clickr

11:40 Project K-Nect: Teachers develop custom questions that can be used to determine proficiency in real time

11:41 Judy Brown: That is a great example and also answers Randal F’s earlier question. If you are using iPods, ACU also has a free tool.

11:41 Project K-Nect: Student respond to questions that are presented to them via text messaging

11:41 [Comment From Guest]

11:41 Moderator: Katie Ash: Neat!

11:41 Project K-Nect: Let me provide another example

11:41 Project K-Nect: If the student has a device that has flash enabled

11:42 Project K-Nect: We use a site called DimDim

11:42 Project K-Nect: DimDim is a free tool that allows our teachers to conduct virtual classrooms broadcasting out the the cellphones!

11:42 Moderator: Katie Ash: www.dimdim.com

11:42 Judy Brown: From Elliott Soloway “Cell phones can be powerful computers. They can do just about everything laptops can do for a fraction of the price. And many students are bringing them to school anyway.”

11:43 Judy Brown: Unfortunately Flash is not available today on many US cellphones.

11:43 Project K-Nect: In addition, teachers are able to record lectures and post them for students to go back to and view from their cellphones!


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Not sure if you have any ideas for Michelle, from Australia, but here are her questions.

11:43 Moderator: Katie Ash: I am interested in seeing whether the software for interactive whiteboards (known as Smartboard notebook or Activ studio)is available and can be loaded on to Smartphones or I Phones. I would like to send lessons I design for IWB’s to Distance students that have some interactivity.

11:43 Moderator: Katie Ash: I would also like to ask if there is a platform or web page system that is recommended for teachers who want to set up a class page where students with smartphones or iphones could download assignments from.

11:44 Moderator: Katie Ash: She submitted those questions to me in advance, because of the time difference.

11:44 Project K-Nect: Yes, some of the clickr companies allow you to install software

11:44 Project K-Nect: however, we like free

11:44 Project K-Nect: which is why we use polleverywhere


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Excellent! I think lots of educators think like you, Shawn.

11:45 Project K-Nect: questions were asked about sustainability of such program and I think all of you are interested in reseach outcomes

11:45 Judy Brown: For Michelle, it really depends upon the devices. Moodle does have a Mobile Learning module.


Moderator: Katie Ash:

Here’s something we haven’t talked about much-

11:45 [Comment From Tracey]
How can the use of smartphones be tailored for elementary students?

11:45 Moderator: Katie Ash: Most of the projects we’ve touched on do deal with older students - high schoolers and middle schoolers.

11:45 Project K-Nect: Tracey, a great project to look at is learning2go

11:45 Project K-Nect: They are located in the UK

11:46 Project K-Nect: The project targets K-6 and has been operational for 4 years

11:46 Judy Brown: There are a number of apps even for pre-K. Most I have seen though use devices without a monthly charge.

11:46 Project K-Nect: Recently they deployed 1000 plus HTC devices to students in grades 3-6

11:47 Project K-Nect: GoKnow has some amazing applications designed for K-6 as well


Moderator: Katie Ash:


11:47 Judy Brown: You will find a number of 1-6 projects in the Molenet site I included earlier. In the NZ article there is a discussion of using these devices for reading.

11:47 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question from Karen about what kind of equipment you need.

11:47 [Comment From Karen Pegler]
It would be interesting as well to know what sort of supporting infrastructure is needed to support the mobile devices i.e. LCD projectors, scanners, what is important for successful infusion of mobile devices?


Project K-Nect:

Karen, we do not rely upon the infrastucture from the school, we utilize the cellular network

11:48 Project K-Nect: The teacher however must have projector and access to the internet to connect to these applications

11:49 Project K-Nect: In addition, PD is a critical success factor


Moderator: Katie Ash:


11:49 Judy Brown: I have not seen extra equipment needed

11:49 Moderator: Katie Ash: There’s a thoughtful comment from Stan about PD.

11:49 Project K-Nect: Students can vote on polleverywhere via text message so normal text messaging plans apply, but they can also vote on the web

11:50 [Comment From Stan]
I guess the problem is most IT people are not educators and most educators and not IT people. We need more professional development so we can promote acceptable use of devices in an open system, so all the good uses of these devices for education can be tapped. They definitely engage kids, but we need the pd to support teachers. There are reluctant ones out there.

11:50 Project K-Nect: Another great source of information concerning mobile technologies is the sesame report titled,"pockets of potential.”

11:50 Judy Brown: This is true, but do all have web access at the same time? according to Elliott Soloway - “This is the beginning of the future. The future is mobile devices that are connected. They’re going to be the new paper and pencil.”

11:50 Project K-Nect: Stan that is a great comment!!!!

11:51 Project K-Nect: Let me respond to the research question

11:51 Project K-Nect: we had 4 classes of K-Nect students in Algebra I

11:51 Project K-Nect: we compared them to the other alg I classes at the school


Project K-Nect:

we had a 3rd party researcher

11:52 Project K-Nect: all 4 cohorts outperformed the other classes at the schools on the end of course exam

11:52 Project K-Nect: The students that participated in the 1st phase of project k-Nect were low performing algebra students

11:52 Project K-Nect: I am sitting with them right now and they are all in AP Calc!

11:53 Judy Brown: Awesome results, Shawn

11:53 Project K-Nect: Karen, please send me an email at shawngross@projectknect.org and I will send you our research report as well as research from other projects

11:53 Judy Brown: From the 2009 Horizon Report K-12 Edition at www.nmc.org/pdf/2009-Horizon-Report-K12.pdf “Multi-touch interfaces, GPS capability, and the ability to run third-party applications make today’s mobile device an increasingly flexible tool that is readily adapted to a wide range of tasks for social networking, learning, and productivity. In some places, mobile devices like the iPhone have already begun to supplnt portable computers as the Internet-capable device of choice.”


Moderator: Katie Ash:

That’s excellent.

11:53 [Comment From Karen Pegler]
Has the research been published? I would love to be able to read/reference it.

11:53 Project K-Nect: Judy, I love that report as well

11:54 Moderator: Katie Ash: To shift gears just a little bit, do you guys have any advice for Amy?

11:54 [Comment From Amy Ervin]
Is there any research out there about use of mobile devices for students with disabilities?

11:55 Project K-Nect: response from students, these are words they are shouting out now: teamwork, communication, collaboration, connectivity,

11:55 Moderator: Katie Ash: I think that’s in response to Al’s question:

11:55 [Comment From Al]
Can we ask the students what did it for them? What made it possible for them to understand Algebra?

11:55 Project K-Nect: Response from students, these are words they are shouting out now: teamwork, communication, collaboration, connectivity,

11:55 Project K-Nect: you can ask them more ??'s they are eager to participate

11:56 Judy Brown: Amy - Definitely. Some excellent research on disabilities. I don’t have them handy, but will look for them if you want to email me. The devices can already be used both for visual and audio and there are multiple options for input.

11:56 Moderator: Katie Ash: Great!

11:56 [Comment From Don]
What about learning in the content areas--science and social studies?

11:57 Project K-Nect: All for some examples of work products created by the studens, please visit: http://projectknect.blogspot.com


Moderator: Katie Ash:

I know you guys are focused on math right now, Shawn, but I’m sure there’s plenty going on in all the subject areas right now.

11:57 Project K-Nect: We have branched out into biology as well and have found numerous applications in science

11:57 Judy Brown: Don - yes, especially field trips and user generated content to share. Some great examples in New Zealand, Sweeden and the UK.

11:57 Moderator: Katie Ash: That’s great.

11:58 Moderator: Katie Ash: I think we have time for just one more question before we wrap things up.

11:58 Moderator: Katie Ash: Here’s a question from Martha to Shawn’s students.

11:58 [Comment From Martha]
I work at a museum and always looking to engage our K-12 audience. Shawn’s class, I’d like to know how likely you’d be to use these same types of activities in a museum or other public/non-school setting?

11:58 Project K-Nect: Think about it, the phone has a digital camera, video camera. Our students conducted several experiements and were able to record the results to test a hypothesis

11:58 Moderator: Katie Ash: That sort of relates to what you were just referring to, Judy.

11:58 Judy Brown: Some Education Apps by subject for the iPod - web.me.com/dowd/Touch/Welcome.html

11:58 Project K-Nect: Martha, this is a great question

11:59 Judy Brown: Yes, please don’t forget user generated content.

11:59 Judy Brown: It is not about devices, but capabilities
. About the experience -- not technology

11:59 Project K-Nect: You can utilize bar code readers in the musuem and the device will automatically pull up relevant content alligned to the specic piece in the museum

12:00 Project K-Nect: sorry about the spelling


Moderator: Katie Ash:

No worries, Shawn.

12:00 Moderator: Katie Ash: There definitely seem to be quite a bit of potential for mobile devices to enhance learning both in formal and informal classroom settings.

12:00 Judy Brown: It is not about the devices, but the capabilities. It is about the experience, not the technology

12:01 Moderator: Katie Ash: Perfect.

12:01 Moderator: Katie Ash: I wish we had time to ask all of the questions that were submitted! This has been a great discussion.

12:01 Judy Brown: We have pulled together a content community for mobile learning related blogs at http://cc.mlearnopedia.com.

12:01 Project K-Nect: All, I am going back to the class now to complete training, if you want more details please feel free to contact me at shawngross@projectknect.org

12:01 Project K-Nect: thank you all for attending and judy we must talk!!!!!

12:01 Judy Brown: Or me at judy@mlearnopedia.com

12:01 Judy Brown: Absolutely, Shawn


Moderator: Katie Ash:

I encourage you all to head over to the forum to continue the discussion of how mobile technologies can be used in the classroom.

12:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: Thanks Shawn and Judy so much for participating!

12:02 Moderator: Katie Ash: And thanks for all the thoughtful questions!


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