The technologies that are available to us today have the potential to open up numerous possibilities when it comes to teaching and learning. However, it appears that for many, the major focus is what the device can “do”, how it can “help” and what apps should we be using. The danger here is that educators will continue to teach the same as they have before, only with new forms of text.
Consider instead, not being so concerned with the apps that can be used for “x” or the way in which these devices may or may not “help” handwriting, learning etc in a direct way…but rather, how the immediacy that they enable is what may really make the difference.
To unpack this further….
Example 1: If I am reading a text on a mobile device, within this text is the ability for me to create my own notes, highlight sections of importance, define words as I come across them, search for words in the text and analyse them according to their context and if desired, immediately search the internet for greater levels of definitions, research or other aspects of information that may assist my understanding of the text. The immediacy of access is what makes the difference – I am finding the information at the time when I am most interested in obtaining it and when it will make the greatest impact on my learning.
Example 2: A simple, but good example…I am in a fabric shop looking for a particular type and colour of fabric, chenille. I’m unable to find the fabric of choice, so I immediately open up my mobile device, search for “how to make chenille” and within seconds, I have the directions and fabric requirements. Within minutes, I have made my purchase and am now able to continue with my activity in a different, but nevertheless successful manner.
Example 3: I am teaching a science prac class – in this class, students use note taking apps (it doesn’t matter which one), add images and annotate as the prac continues. Notes and images are immediate, consolidating readings with findings. Throughout the lesson, students have the ability to record, analyse and write responses – the completed findings can be shared with other students or the teacher in a timely fashion…consolidating the concept being discussed.
These examples focus more heavily on what you are “doing” or trying to achieve, rather than the particular “app” that will make something happen…The immediacy enabled by technologies today should be the focal point of “how” we are using these devices in the learning environment. The interplay between technology and pedagogy is the focus – technologies should support learning….not dictate it.