Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mobile Learning At Saline Middle School

As Principal of a BYOD school, Mobile Learning was a great topic to research.  I always enjoy learning new ways to use mobile devices and being able to share my new knowledge with the staff.  In most cases the staff also share their ideas with me, allowing me to explore what they are doing with technology as well.  

In an effort to support this initiative, the Saline Area School District recently added wireless capabilities to Saline Middle School allowing student-owned devices to be used to support instruction in the classroom setting.  With classroom teacher approval, students may use their own devices in the classroom to access, interact and save information from the Internet, communicate with other learners and use web productivity tools to create assignments/projects or take classroom assessments.
Through this lab I had the chance to explore the many uses of technology that we are doing here at SMS and also had a chance to expose the staff to a couple of great ideas that I’ve learned about while exploring mobile devices.  What’s nice about already having BYOD at Saline Middle School is that we are using many devices for a lot of the basics.     Such as, maximizing access to Internet to check vocabulary/spelling, researching for the writing work they are doing,  or using their devices to access teacher websites and associated links/resources that can help productivity and organization.   The most common use is that our students are using their device to read digital text, with e-readers, I pads, computers or their smart phones.   Our students are really getting a great experience using mobile devices in their day-to-day life as a student.
My newest learning was the use of Evernote on my I-phone.  I’ve been using Evernote on my computer as a checklist for my tasks and organizing some of my thoughts.  Recently I met with a 6th grader that is using Evernote as a digital version of his planner. He uses it for a variety of things, such as taking notes, responding to questions, journal entries, recording important information, etc.... It is basically an electronic binder that can be shared, resorted, and adds to very easily.  I have been exploring Evernote on my I-phone and have discovered taking pictures and notes during observations that directly connect to my I-pad and Laptop.  This has helped me capture some great educational moments and seeing that observations take place at anytime I can always make notes.  The more I explore the more value it has to offer me as an administrator.  I am really finding Evernote a resource that I cannot do without. Check out the link Evernote also, you can watch a quick YouTube video that gives a brief overview.

One of the coolest and more useful mobile tools that I have discovered while attending the MACUL Conference this past February was the use of QR Codes.   In its simplest sense think "print based hypertext link" you can simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone at it.   You have to have a QR Code decoding app downloaded.   Point the camera at it and it will take you directly to its browser or URL.  I approached one of our more tech friendly teachers who teaches math and we discussed how this could benefit his students.  As part of my Wicked Problem we started to explore how this would work in his class.   We polled 120 students and found that 91% of them have access to a mobile device that can scan QR Codes.  Then we demonstrated how it would work at home or in class.  He then started to either video himself teaching a specific lesson or demonstrates the lesson via his notes and linked it to a QR Code using “My Kaywa QR-Code”.  He attaches the QR Code to the assignment and if the student gets stuck on a problem he can use his mobile device to get a review of how to do the problem.   This is an area I find can help all our students in a time that they do not have a source to go to for help. Check out the link to My Kaywa QR-Code
Also, this is the video we shared with our students.  What is a QR Code

One of the more familiar apps that I have used in meetings and in the classroom is
I have occasionally used this as a response system in the beginning of a meeting to get immediate feedback on a building issue that I want staff feedback.   We introduced at a beginning of the year professional development and it was a hit.  I know that many teachers use it in their class for review purposes and for those students who do not have their own devices we let them check out an I-Pad from the media center.  However, most of the students have some form of mobile device that they bring to school.   It was a great tool to use doing this past Presidential Election as we did our own election as an entire building.  During 3rd hour every the students participated in and at the end of the day we announced the winner.  Obama won at SMS also! is easy to use and provides immediate feedback that is useful and fun.   Check out

This is a quick video:

This was another great lab that was useful in my day-to-day operation of building principal.  I was able to learn new tools and have been able to share these tools with the staff here at Saline Middle School.  Finally, being part of the Classroom 2.0 Cell Phone in Education group was a useful site to be able to share ideas and get viewpoints on topics that you may not otherwise hear.   Connecting to another network of people only enhances my education and continues to teach me that there are many useful tools available in an educational setting.  It also teaches me that I am not alone in this ever- changing technical society.

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