As technology develops and advances, so to does the means which we experience or use them. The ICT’s that are household items today gone through tremendous evolutions in both size and capabilities. Have a look for example the evolution of the mobile phone:

When it comes to these more personal and handheld ICT’s in particular, there has traditionally always been a negative view upon them by educational institutions. Remember all those all those school rules forbidding the use of mobile phones and ipod? However these ICT’s even though they can at times serve as distractions in a classroom, can be in fact transformed into mobile learning devises.

Google earth for example, is an application that allows you to locate, zoom in, measure distance from and locate routes all from the comfort of your computer or even your iPhone or Android. This would be a great interactive tool for a geography class.

The iPhone in particular has thousands upon thousands of downloadable applications (many of them free) that have an educational value. Downloadable educational applications include unit and size converters for mathematics, diaries to plan school week, musical tuners for music classes, and even work out routines and programs for PEHDE classes. These are just a few mentioned, this Apple website lists many many more. Furthermore, websites such as www.iear.org not only list purely educational applications (or apps for short) for all year levels but they also review them and mention their usefulness.

It was only just recently however, that the Australian Government saw potential in ICT’s as learning devices. As Mitchell Bingerman (2009) explains, the NSW Department of Education had given laptops to over 200 000 government secondary schools. As reported, the then Premier Nathan Rees said the technology was meant to improve and increase collaboration and methods of school assessments and projects. Mr Rees stated that because the children and teachers will share the common technology, class presentations and work should be conducted more efficiently using programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe. This Youtube video highlights the events and motives behind the release in 2009.

This ICT initiative is excellent for supporting all types of learners. Together with IWB’s, access to the internet, Webquests, and traditional texts books all forms of differentiation can occur within the classroom. Not only that, but because the laptop is a mobile devise, it allows work to be completed virtually anywhere. Furthermore, with internet driven activities such as Webquests, the work can be home if a student is sick or injured, or across the globe if on a trip with the family. Thus with such mobile devices, cognitive activities are no longer reserved for the classroom and can be completed anywhere with internet connection – it wont be te teacher’s fault if students fall behind in their work.

However, even though mobile technology is very promising, from my personal observations in my university school experience I found that the laptops are also another source of distraction for the classroom. Even though yes, websites not relevant to learning are blocked, the level of technological savvy that the young teens today possess means that they by pass any web restrictions anyway. Furthermore, if the teacher is at the front of the room or  tending to a student, there is no possible way to see if the other students are working, and not surfing the net, playing a game or watching a movie. Thus if mobile ICT’s such as the laptops are to be introduced into schools, there must in my opinion be a large focus into how classrooms should be set out and managed accordingly.

References:

Bingermann M. (2009). NSW Government awards contracts for school laptops. The Australian. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nsw-govt-awards-contracts-for-school-laptops/story-e6frgal6-1225700527023

http://www.apple.com/iphone/apps-for-iphone/

http://www.iear.org/