Tag Archives: cell phones

Mobile Devices in the Classroom

In the past 2 or 3 years, I have pushed aside the traditional notion that students should leave their phones in the locker during class time.  I usually allow my students to bring their phones almost every day because they have no idea when I want to use them.  Sometimes I use them as instructional devices.  Sometimes I use them as research devices.  And sometimes students just listen to music as they work.  All in all, I have seen an increase desired to participate, learn, and engage when students are using their own mobile devices in my classroom.  Not too mention, with the lack of tech resources in my school, I have sort-of, kind-of adopted my own BYOD, which has introduced a whole new set of guidelines and policies into my classroom, but that is for another blogpost at another time.  However, I wanted to take a second to discuss 3 mobile device tools that I use frequently in my class.

Recently, I created a Google Docs presentation for my grad school class about PollEverywhere.com.  Poll Everywhere creates online polls that allows anyone to text in their answer to a multiple choice or a short answer question.  You can also use a mobile browser or a unique URL to view each question and answer them.  Users can see their responses and others in real time as they appear on the display.  In my experience, Poll Everywhere is best used for quick, fun review games.  It’s fairly cumbersome/expensive to aggregate the data for your classroom and generate data to help teachers assess their own teaching.  There is also not an easy way for students to indicate who they are, which is why I have my students initial their responses.  While Poll Everywhere does not provide opportunities for authentic assessment, it does provide teachers with meaningful ways to engage their students, increase interactivity, and present new information or review previously learned information.  With all that said, my students love this tool because they see their responses in real time like they would on a jumbo-tron and they are using their own mobile devices during class.  I highly recommend this tool to anyone looking for a way to use mobile devices in the classroom in a fun and engaging way.

Another mobile device tool that I wanted to spotlight is called Socrative.  Socrative is very similar to Poll Everywhere in that it allows teachers to create assessments in which students respond to using their own mobile devices.  I was turned on to this tool about a year or so ago by my colleague, @mrscienceteach.  I gave it a shot, and I was instantly hooked! In a nutshell, Socrative is Poll Everywhere supercharged and can be used in very similarly to Poll Everywhere but with more bells and whistles.  You can set up short answer questions, multiple choice questions, games, exit passes, review games, tests, quizzes, etc.  Teachers can generate the questions themselves, and students simply log in and begin.  Socrative is compatible with any mobile device via their app, but you can also use browsers as well to participate.  As a teacher, the best part about Socrative are the reports that it generates for you.  While the answers are not saved and stored by Socrative, the multiple choice activities are graded for you automatically and other students responses are aggregated and sent to you via email in an excel spreadsheet or shared online via Google Docs.  Here is a great blogpost on all the Socrative capabilities.

Another mobile device tool or app that I use is called Remind101.  Remind101 is a safe and easy way for teachers to text students and parents for free.  While this tool is not an instructional tool, it is a great way to supplement instruction by letting students know what is going on in class with important dates, test reminders, links, HW reminders, etc.  Teachers do not have to give our their personal cell phone numbers.  Instead, teachers just have to create an account online and students and parents will subscribe to the account via a randomly generated number.  Once they subscribe, every time the teacher sends a reminder either via the app or a browser then all subscribers will receive a text to their phone with the information.  It’s a great way to stay connected and keep all stakeholders informed.

All in all I think mobile devices are on the rise in today’s classroom and they should be embraced by schools and teachers.  With the increased demand for iPhones and Android powered devices, students are bringing computers with them to school every day and we are making them keep these devices in their lockers.  Tools like Poll Everywhere, Socrative, and Remind 101 are great ways to engage students and make use of the tools they bring to the classroom.  With students providing their own tech tools, the responsibility for learning shifts even more to the student because they now have an even greater vested interest.