By Ed Hall
Compute Information Systems Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Why are we always complaining about students and their phones? Why do we care so much when they jump on their mobile devices during class?
Well, the obvious answer is that we’re annoyed that they would have the audacity to check Facebook or text their friends in the middle of a lecture or play games instead of working on assignments.
I’ve even known an instructor who had the policy of having all mobile devices–to include tablets, phones, etc–be placed away, out of sight. If the devices surfaced during class, they were to be confiscated.
The truth is, these devices are not going away. In fact, they’re only going to increase in visibility as we are transitioning into mobile computing eyewear, wrist-watches, and more.
So, how do we adapt?
How do we as educators compete with the insurmountable challenge of being more interesting than the internet? The answer is that we don’t. If we are to survive the onslaught of digital information that permeates the classroom, we will need to embrace it, mold it, and incorporate it into our lessons.
Mobile devices get students moving
In a particular networking class that I teach, Network Administration (CNE 192), students are encouraged to log into, interact with, and manipulate data on wireless access points. They even have lab sessions where they roam the halls seeking particular wireless devices and perform information gathering.
Now, while I realize that a technology class varies in nature from say, an English class, the fact remains that wireless devices get students moving and moving students are engaged students.
Let the Games Begin
Students will invariably find a way to interact with their mobile devices, so I say let’s give them something to interact with. I received a good tip from another instructor about superteachertools.net, where I created a game of Jeopardy using questions from multiple chapters. But wait! How will the students buzz in to determine who answers first? The answer…a buzzer app, of course!
By the time we were fully engaged in the game, students had downloaded a dozen different buzzer sounds, the theme music to Jeopardy, the rules, variations of play, and more! They were competing to answer the same weekly chapter questions that I had been pulling teeth to get them engage in previously–and it was FUN!
This post is not intended as a “how to” instructional tool. Rather, it is hopefully an eye opener into the coming age of interactive electronics. As with all things in life, if we are to overcome trials and tribulations, we need to embrace them rather than subvert them.
How can you incorporate wireless devices into your classroom?