Terri Eichholz was one of five winners in the Mobile Learning Experience Contest. She has been teaching for twenty years and currently works at Fox Run Elementary in San Antonio, TX as a Gifted and Talented teacher. The enthusiasm of her students and the support of her administration inspires her to eagerly embrace mobile technologies. Join us in congratulating Terri, as she shares her vision of how mobile devices positively impact student learning!
The most exciting new form of communication that appeared when I was young was the Erasermate pen. I still remember the whispers at our strict Catholic school about the students who were using them, and the confusion the nuns seemed to have about the legality of their usage in class. To be able to erase your pen marks, which were as permanent as the engravings in stone tablets, seemed like an open door to temptation to some, and absolutely freeing to others.
Mobile computing has the same effect, though to a much larger degree, on the teachers of today. The structures of our schools are literally and figuratively being ripped out to accommodate this new technology, and some teachers are mourning the loss of the control they could wield over their carefully organized classroom micro-communities.
I understand the hesitation to embrace less control and more responsibility. But, there is no denying the positive impact these devices can have on learning.
With mobile units in the hands of every student, teachers can monitor the understanding of their students by getting instant responses sent to a spreadsheet that summarizes their answers in the form of a chart. All students can participate without self-consciously looking around the room, anxious about who will tease them for incorrect answers. And you don’t even need to buy an expensive “app” for this instantaneous assessment. Create a form in Google Docs, or use one of the hundreds of free web polling/survey sites, and you’ve got your own student response system.
The ability to differentiate is exponentially increased, as well, when every student has the world of learning in the palm of his or her hand. You can have folders with apps or web shortcuts for drill and practice or to challenge your students. They can use multitudes of tools for creating and applying their learning.
And then there is the global awareness they can develop by using cameras and video to connect with students and experts around the world. Pen pals are fun, but your conversation can quickly get much deeper when you don’t have to wait a week or two for answers to your questions.
When I first placed my Erasermate pen to paper, I thought, “I can write anything, take the risks I always avoided.” That is how I envision a classroom empowered with mobile learning – a think tank bursting with possibility.Terri Eichholz
San Antonio, TX
Congratulations, Terri! To learn more about the Mobile Learning Experience Contest, click here. Do you remember what inspired you to bring mobile learning into your classroom? We want to hear about it! Please share your thoughts and comments below.