By now, you’ve probably read enough to be convinced that it’s worth trying games in your classroom. You understand that games are not meant to be robot teachers, replacing the human-to-human relationship. Games are a tool that teachers can use to do their jobs more effectively and more efficiently. Games provide a different approach to developing metacognitive skills through persistent self-reflection and iteration of particular skill sets. Games offer experiential contextualized learning through virtual simulation. Games can also offer an especially engaging interdisciplinary learning space.
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by Coby Enteen
Mobile devices are slowly transforming the educational landscape for teachers on a global scale. In a recent trip to Africa I had the opportunity to work with local K-12 teachers on utilizing and incorporating digital tools into the classroom.
This program took place in Ghana, which is a country with approximately 20 million people, of which 90% complete primary school grades and only a very small percentage move on to finish a twelfth grade education, and even fewer achieve a post secondary education.
A majority of the schools in Ghana lack the technological resources and facilities that we have become accustomed to in the western world. In the larger cities, some schools have computer labs and teachers use their own laptops where available. Another issue is the lack of internet access and instability of the electrical system, which is often times overloaded and causes blackouts.
The one aspect “leveling the field” is the increased access to mobile devices. It is very common to see individuals walking around with two mobile devices; one for work and one for personal use. These devices offer tremendous opportunities for the advancement of the field of education, particularly as related to the ability to teach 21st century skills and to provide easy access to information commonly available to individuals throughout the western world.
A number of barriers still remain to the effective incorporation of these devices into the classroom:
- High cost of data – In many developing countries where food and health care are still a main concern, individuals are unable to afford the high cost of data, which is buoyed by little competition within the cellular communication market.
- Breaking the traditional teaching model – Although digital education has become a commonplace term throughout the western world, the concept of educational transformation and 21st century skills is still a foreign concept to a majority of educators throughout the developing world.
- Opening the eyes of educators to the possibilities of technology in education – Teachers throughout the developing world often times lack the basic skills required for utilizing the technology for teaching and for guiding student work.
Mobile devices are slowly flattening the world in terms of bringing technology into the classroom. The lack of computers and other technologies within the educational arena in the developing world is being supplemented by the widespread availability of mobile devices. We must overcome a number of obstacles in order to meet this challenge and support educational change.
Middle school students who use mobile devices for school work are more likely to express an interest in STEM subjects, yet there’s a large gap in the number of students using the devices at home and those using them in school, according to a new survey from MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning at the Media Lab and the Verizon Foundation.
by Coby Enteen
Tablets are quickly becoming the ideal solution for school 1-to-1 programs. They provide a simple, lightweight, low-cost option for seamlessly incorporating technology into the classroom. Here are reasons why:
1. Simple, Lightweight Solution – The deployment of laptops into classrooms brought with it a great deal of physical constraints ranging from the weight of the device to the complications with charging and electricity. The tablet weighs very little and provides virtually all of the same learning resources.
2. Battery Capacity – Laptops used in the past would continuously need to be recharged, often during a lesson. This was a cause of frustration for many teachers and students and severely inhibited learning.
3. Low Maintenance – Most schools and educational organizations are dependent on large IT departments with significant budgets to run and maintain a server-client environment. Most tablets rely on cloud-storage solutions. Moreover, tablet operating systems are very solid, hardly ever get “stuck”, and are not as susceptible to computer viruses. The tablets themselves require very little technical care and maintenance, thus freeing up funding spent on IT support for other educational initiatives.
4. The Low Cost/Personal Device – The average cost of a tablet is much lower than a laptop or desktop offering schools with more flexibility and the ability to step closer to a true 1-to-1 learning solution. Tablets also enable learning experiences outside of school when provided as a personal device.
5. Apps, Apps and more Apps – Mobile device applications are slowly becoming the most popular form of software development. Every day more and more applications are being released and many of them are suitable for education.
An additional article on the subject from Digital Trends: