Ed Tech

10 engaging ways to use mobile devices in the classroom

[callout]This post is sponsored by Samsung. All thoughts and opinions are my own.[/callout]

Mobile devices are everywhere. Adults and children are using smartphones, tablets, e-readers and more to interact with each other and the web every day.

Students of all ages have mobile devices, and many bring them to school. Here are some ways to leverage that technology in your classroom. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

Students of all ages have mobile devices, and many bring them to school. Here are some ways to leverage that technology in your classroom. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

More people interact with digital media through mobile now than through desktop computers, and that number continues to grow.

Seventy five percent of kids under eight have their own mobile device.

Students are coming to class with these powerful devices in their pockets and backpacks. Even young students arrive with them, or they have adults at home that can give them access.

With all this access to powerful technology, information and communication, why wouldn’t we tap into it as educators?

Whether your classroom provides a device for every student or not, there are lots of ways you can engage with your students during or after school with mobile devices.

Students could utilize school-provided wifi if your district has a “bring your own device” policy. Or, their mobile devices can help students connect class content to their own worlds while away from class.

Here are five ideas for helping your students use mobile devices for academic gain:

1. Have a classroom hub online. Creating websites is free and easy now with providers like Weebly and Google Sites. Google Classroom lets Google Apps for Education schools manage their digital assignments painlessly and quickly. If you don’t already have an online classroom hub (through a website, Google Classroom or a learning management system), set one up. That gives students access to your materials, assignments and other important information any time. Plus, Google Classroom has a mobile app that lets students view assignments, annotate and collaborate on assignments, turn in work and engage in feedback.

2. Send text message reminders. It’s hard to get parents to read emails, but 98 percent of all text messages that get sent are read. Text messages are a unique medium where adults and kids are active. Remind lets educators send messages safely and securely to students and parents. They can be sent to any cell phone that receives text messages — or any mobile device through the Remind app.

3. Shoot pictures that relate to class whenever. Students are often armed with camera at any given moment. That puts them in perfect position to capture real life examples of your class content that come from their world. They can email those pictures to you or save them to their Google Drive accounts to share with you. Bringing student images into a class discussion is a great way to engage students.

4. Make videos with manipulatives. The aforementioned cameras shoot video as well, of course. Creating instructional videos — or “show your understanding” videos — is easy with a mobile device. Have students create manipulatives, like little pictures of apples or people or trees, out of paper — or let them use props they find around school or home. Then they can create simple videos of them using and moving those manipulatives to explain something from class.

5. Create an RSA Animate-style whiteboard video. Have you seen those speedy whiteboard drawing videos before? RSA Animate has created lots of them, and they’re really impressive. Simple versions of those videos aren’t hard to make, and they’re doable with a mobile device camera. Plan out your video and what you’ll draw (including captions for viewers to read). Record video of the whiteboard and your arm drawing out your illustrations (and erasing them). Then upload the video to YouTube and, using Creator Studio (click “My Channel” and “Video Manager”), edit the video. Use the time lapse option to speed it up to 4x. Use the audio tab to add some music and you’re done!

6. Create a song parody. This is a fun way to connect content from class with students’ everyday lives. Have students choose something they’ve studied and a song they love. They find a karaoke version of it on YouTube (with the voices stripped out). Then, they start writing new lyrics. When they’re done writing, students can play the YouTube video of the song through the speakers of one device (a smartphone, tablet, computer … anything!) while students sing along. They use another device to record. Any simple voice recording app will work, as will a website like AudioBoom. It gets students engaged in content, and they’re sure to listen to each other’s songs!

7. Learn with game-show-style review games. Plenty of options exist for teachers and students to have fun and review at the same time. Sites like Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet Live and others are used in classrooms every day, and more new tools seem to come on to the market on a regular basis. Students can use their mobile devices to play these games because they’re web-based. Students participate in these game-show-style assessment tools with the web browsers on their devices. That means any mobile device gets students interacting with what they’ve been learning.

8. Send students on a QR code scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are fun by themselves. But when students get their next steps through QR codes, it can bring a new level of intrigue. Classtools.net has an easy QR code scavenger hunt generator. Just input your questions and the generator creates the QR codes for you. Hang the QR codes up where necessary and turn students loose on them with a mobile device and a QR code reader like i-nigma.

9. Interact with students through a Google Form. Google Forms is a free, interactive survey tool through Google Apps. It lets anyone ask a variety of questions (multiple choice, short answer, drop-down menu, etc.) and gather the results in one place. This is an easy win in the classroom. Teachers can create sign-in sheets and late work submission forms. Students can participate in a variety of assessments or create fun Choose Your Own Adventure stories.

10. Record a phone call. Smart phones can make phone calls still, right? Experts in a variety of fields are becoming more and more accessible. Plus, there are a variety of schools and classes looking to connect with students just like theirs. We can make simple phone calls to them, but we can also make video calls with tools like Skype and Google Hangouts. Mobile devices are great for these calls. Plus, video cameras and voice recorders can capture the event for playback later.

[reminder]How have you used mobile devices to engage students in and out of the classroom? Which of these ideas are you most likely to use?[/reminder]

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