Students are on their phones ALL the time. Students are not on their textbook all the time. Think about that. And I’m not saying we should only do what students want to do. One of my favorite quotes is “the object of education isn’t to make students comfortable, it’s to make them successful.” But I do think leverage and engagement are useful.
Since reason #1 is true are you going to use it or fight it? Remember this scene from Kung Fu Panda?
Since students are really into their phone and really into their social media apps and mobile games, why not jujitsu their desires into learning opportunities. Instead of fighting it USE IT! Both Aikido and Jujitsu are deadly in that they use their opponent’s own strength and force to serve the practitioner’s own interest. This leads me to another point to remember. Very few students will be using PearDeck, Nearpod, or Socrative outside of a school setting, so why not use what they will use or do use: Twitter, Snapchat, Instragram, Minecraft are all powerful tools inside and outside the classroom. When students see us using learning tools that are NOT being used professionally or naturally they quickly put that method into the “this is school stuff only” part of their brain. Additionally why pay for an educational app when you can find one for free. That is a big part of the appeal of Google Apps, they are free. And yes I understand they are paid by ads, but we’ve been enjoying content paid by ads since the 50s, free is still a desired commodity. Free food always tastes better.
PS I understand that K5 schools can’t just let students loose on Social Media and other public apps, but if you can find a free solution or if you are a high school getting students ready for how they will interact with others professionally, you have an obligation to help them try these tools out in a school setting and help them modify, learn, and grow.
My students create on their phones ALL the time. They make
emoji summaries of The Great Gatsby
They make short videos: “Set”
They’ll even say Thank You with their phone
PokemonGO is going viral because it’s out in the wilderness and not confined to an Xbox or desktop computer. I don’t buy into the digital native stuff, but most of our students are extremely competent with their cell phones and are capable of using them in ways I haven’t even thought about. I’m always getting mad at students when I find out about a cool, new, useful app that they’ve known about for weeks or months.
They say LOTs of things with their phone, but not just through pictures, they write. That’s right they write. Quite a few of my students write their entire blog posts with their phones. It’s great because they can use the photos they already have on their phones. Phones are not just toys or game machines for our students, they are windows to their hearts/mind and community building tools.
You know all those teachers at THOSE schools that have the fancy furniture like you see at Google, Facebook, or Remind headquarters? Well you might never get that furniture in your classroom, but that’s okay because you share the same clouds and sky as Google! Taking tech outside is the next big thing. Our students are not stuck to their desktop computer like we were ten years ago. They go outside. Pokemon GO is not the first popular virtual reality game to be played outdoors. Niantic Labs started with Ingress. What’s Ingress?
What’s funny is that almost all of the Pokemon GO objects are located where the old Ingress portals were located. Ingress was played globally by millions of users and most of you probably weren’t even aware of it.
And Ingress wasn’t even Niantic Labs first go around. They had previously created an app with Google called “Field Trip.”
You could walk around town and learn about local landmarks and other items of historical interest. But you don’t even need a special app to do this, you can create a field trip on your own campus or in your local neighborhoods using Google maps. I’ve done this on my campus and at the Google Teacher Academy. What if you set up a scavenger hunt or learning activity using a custom map?
Or you could use a scavenger hunt app like Goosechase. It’s a ton of fun. Chris Long introduced me to this app and they’ve just started creating EDU accounts.
Just think of things you want your students to represent with a photo, or create and then capture with a photo. What’s cool is you can check in on their progress from the app and then show everyone in the class the completed tasks.
Podcasts. Both creating and listening to podcasts. I love podcasts and I’m not alone. Podcasts are HOT right now. So what do podcasts have to do with PokemonGO?
- #whatif you take your whole class outside to listen to a podcast?
- #whatif you let groups of students listen to a podcast that enriches what they just learned?
- #whatif students listened to a podcast that answers a question that came up in class?
- #whatif instead of a podcast you (and maybe a guest) used Voxer to leave a series of observations or a type of Voxercast for your students to listen to while they were riding a bike, at the gym, at the beach, or just walking around the campus. Heck you could leave links to audio clips in a Google drive and place them on a Google map.
- #whatif your students shared their favorite podcasts to #podcollage
And that’s the beauty of podcasts and apps like Voxer. You do the learning when YOU have time and WHERE you want. Not at a certain time of the day or in a certain place. Once more podcasts are not just a school thing. Lots of people listen to podcasts w/o a teacher telling them to. So if you can use podcasts outside your class, kids see this as more than just a school thing.
I hear adults complain all the time about kids not getting enough exercise. Pokemon GO gets kids moving. Just this morning my niece got out of bed w/o complaining to go hunt for Pokemon. Mobile games and activities are just that: mobile. Studies have show how exercise increases brain activity, so let’s get kids from behind their desk and get them moving while they are learning.
Speaking of moving, Pokemon GO requires that you move to complete certain tasks. In order to hatch an egg you have to walk different distances. I had to walk 5K to hatch my own Meowth.
Pokemon GO is an adventure. You have to be careful otherwise you might walk into a pole, or worse. Our kids need WAY more adventure in their life.
Pokemon GO gets kids meeting other kids. It’s like the 21st century front porch. Yes there is risk in meeting new kids, but there’s also the chance that kids will find new friends and realize that they are all a part of a bigger community. That’s a good thing. We met some new kids last night. I had never seen them around before. It was cool.
Just yesterday I read an article about a phone manufacturer selling android phones for four dollars. FOUR DOLLARS! Of course I found it hard to believe and so did others, but I can go to my local Walmart and buy an unlocked android phone for $27.00. While an iPad is cheaper than a laptop and a Chromebook is cheaper than an iPad, what we really need is for everyone to have their own device to take home and for teachers to assign work that ANYONE can do with a mobile phone. Only this way can we start to have a little technological equity.
Is mobile learning/gaming perfect, of course, not neither were pens, but then they created pencils. Are pencils perfect, nope so they created mechanical pencils. But the important thing to remember is that mobile learning is novel, new, unique and based on my 21 years of teaching, students LOVE trying new stuff. You are not going to have to worry that they’ve already done this eight years in a row. Will there be a few glitches? Of course:
But you, and your students, might discover something new along the way.
So get out their and catch some new ideas from today’s hottest pastime. Hopefully it will evolve into something you and your students will cherish.
Addendum: Bonus item #15
While nothing above is perhaps “the future” I mean you’ve heard the idea that the ancients stole our best ideas, perhaps all of the above are good reminders or things to think about as we walk into the future. I’m adding a tweet below which will take you to a post by George Couros, which brings up an extra point that I didn’t even think of when writing this post. Thanks George. #bettertogether