Friday, 3 July 2015

Part Four: More musings on classrooms using mobile digital technologies

As I've mentioned in previous blog posts (see for example: Part Three: visiting some more classrooms), I'm regularly visiting a number of teachers as they go about their work, quietly experimenting with digital tools. I've also talked about the music class (Part Two: Visiting some classrooms). I was back there today and had a chance to ask two girls what it was like learning music with the iPads and the various apps and sites they use.

I wasn't fast enough to record things verbatim, but essentially they said that they LOVE it! By doing some of the drills and quizzes, their confidence and musical knowledge has increased hugely. In probing this, they also told me that it was because the practice helped but so did the feedback so they knew what to do better next time. They also, without prompting, argued that learning the same things via pen and paper wouldn't have worked - digitally, they can try, redo, erase and keep going without having to mess up a lot of paper.

Perhaps this is why, when the teacher was explaining a point about some notation information, both of them moved their seats so they could see better. This is what you call engagement. And they were very happy to talk about their experiences, smiling the whole time!

So why am I telling you this? If we are wondering about impact on learning, here is a great example where it is positive and supports confidence, engagement, and a desire to learn more. What more can you ask?  Here are some images of these girls going through one set of tasks to refresh their knowledge about identifying notes on lines above and below the stave, as well as identifying key signatures. Note: I have deliberately not photographed them, just what they working on:
Identifying notes above and below the stave. Note the handy
pen and paper too
Getting a choice right! (She wanted me to capture that!)

So I guess the upshot is that while there has been a debate raging in Mirandanet on its forum about the banning mobile phones debate arising from a Guardian article, here we are beginning develop a body of knowledge about the value mobile devices can have for specifically targeted learning. The original article prompted a published response, which in turn, developed the debate further, so the kinds of learning we are observing and reporting on in brief here, is important. The key is ALWAYS about the design of the learning - clear purposes and learning structures to facilitate a student-centred, student-learning-need-driven focus.

As always, comments and other perspectives are welcome.

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