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23 June 2013

Mobile Learning

How can we utilize students' phones effectively in the classroom?
Image via apple.com
Mobile learning is a new-ish phenomenon; I have been reading about them everywhere recently. Alexandra Lowe recently posted about using smartphones and tablets on the TESOL blog, and I just found a great video from the British Council on using cell (mobile) phones in the classroom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYRxpoFPCFU. They provide three different ways to use smart phones: pictures, voice recording, and apps. Bonus: the first two can be used with "dumb" phones and don't need an internet connection. 

No smartphone? No problem!
My students always bring their phones to class, so I like the idea of integrating the use of phones into my lessons. My beginning-level reading/writing course is using the Oshima and Hogue series for writing, and one of the chapters is about describing a picture. The book provides a picture with a sample description; however, rather than having students describe a random picture from the book or internet, I can have them describe a picture on their phone. Then they can read their paragraph to their classmates (this would work in pairs or small groups) and show the picture that they're describing. This would be much more meaningful to have them describe and write about an actual person in their lives, and they wouldn't have to "make stuff up from their head" (a common complaint about non-context-based writing). 

How do you (or could you) utilize smart phones in your classroom? What are other ways we can incorporate students' interests in the classroom to maintain engagement?

P.S. More with Alexandra Lowe: Secrets for Adult ELLs Part 1 and Part 2