The teaching community has recently acknowledged the importance of using technology within the classroom in order to keep the attention of their students. But some educators have gone even further and support the use of mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets in the classroom, known as mobile learning. Mobile learning is defined by Helen Crompton, assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia as “learning across multiple contexts, through social and content interactions, using personal electronic devices” (Crompton, September/October 2013). This definition can be somewhat confusing so lets dissect it, as Crompton does in her article The Benefits and Challenges of Mobile Learning. The first part of that definition states “learning across multiple contexts” and refers to the portability and versatility of mobile devices that allows us to learn wherever, whenever, and for whatever subject a student is interested in. For example lets say a student is walking down the street and sees a word on a billboard that they are not familiar with, this student looks up the definition of the word on their mobile device and learns something new. The second part of the definition of mobile learning is “through social and content interactions” which describes the connections students make with others as well as with the subject matter. For example, a class takes a field trip to a local museum and two students find a common interest in an ancient artifact that is on display. They notice a QR code included in the description and scan it using their mobile device. This allows the students to get more information directly on their mobile device and connect with others who share their interest. And finally the last part of the definition given by Crompton is “using personal electronic devices” which refers to the many electronic devices that learning is available on: laptops, smart phones, and tablets. Having these personal electronics will help each student increase their learning experience and retention rate. Lets imagine, for example, a class watching a short documentary and each student using their own personal devices. One student in class who is hard of hearing usually has a hard time hearing all important content when the films are showed off one device. However with his own personal device the student, who realizes his volume is too low, pauses his device, turns up the volume, and resumes.
The definition and examples above prove that mobile learning is becoming more and more important. But what initiatives are being taken to implement this new way of learning into classrooms? The Verizon foundations have recently teamed up with ISTE to form the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Program which actively supports school leaders, teachers, and technology coaches with the implementations of mobile learning in classrooms. This program trains teachers in new technologies, focuses on standard-based instruction, fosters systematic technological integration, helps enhance school’s capacity to offer high-quality technological assistance to teachers, provides suggestion of how to use new technology to keep students engaged, and helps school adopt new mobile learning programs. However throughout the first two years of this program, ISTE has realized that it is not just about access to mobile devices. Teacher’s technological knowledge has become a main focus for the program. If teachers don’t know how to use mobile devices, apps, and new technologies, the program and their efforts as obsolete. As a result, the program has began to offer technological courses to teachers to help them keep up with the rapidly changing mobile device world.
Personally, I think the implementation of mobile learning in the classroom is important. Students don’t want to come into the classroom and disconnect. Therefore we, as future teachers, must find ways to use the addiction to mobile devices that our students will most likely have, to our benefit. I think that a balance is going to be the most important thing. We want our students to learn, not just look things up. Retention is key! So my question to the ISTE and Verizon would be how to reach a balance between learning during the age of web pages like google that can provide almost any answer. Within my classroom I will use mobile devices for individual activities. Having interactive online activities with a short, timed questionnaire at the end may help students be interested, interact, learn, and retain.
Crompton, H. (Sep/Oct 2013). The benefits and challenges of mobile learning in Learning and Leading with Technology. [online]. Retrieved from
Nixon-Saintil, J. & Ramos, Y. (Sep/Oct 2013). Partnership helps schools succeed with mobile learning in Learning and Leading with Technology. [online]. Retrieved from