Mobile Learning for the 21st Century. At 7:30 bright and early on Friday morning, Susan Gaer of Santa Ana College gave an informative session on how to integrate mobile technology into language learning. She had participants begin with the same activity she uses with students early on in a course. We partnered up and used her guided questions to discover the features on our phones. As Susan noted, this paired talk saves the teacher the challenging task of trying to explain features on different types of smart phones. In our session, partners sometimes helped owners discover features they didn’t even realize they had. Susan’s questions also teach basic vocabulary: video, vibrate, text message, audio recorder, and more. The questions also help basic students review yes-no questions in the simple present. Does your cell phone have a camera? – Yes, it does. / No, it doesn’t. Another great tip was to use a photo as an ice breaker/ warm-up. Have students choose one photo (from their vast collections) and share it with a partner. Comments and questions naturally follow.
Susan wisely addresses cell phone etiquette with a set of questions about appropriate use in various settings. She uses these questions both at the beginning and ending of a course. She aims to teach students that in addition to being an instrument of communication, the cell phone is a learning device. One suggested activity has students write about a time they saw a cell phone being used inappropriately. (Susan has offered samples of student writings on her website. Her students have signed releases, so you are free to use the texts in your own classes as models.)
Susan also recommended the use of mass text messaging through programs like Remind101. This free site allows teachers to stay in touch with students via daily messages, homework reminders, and other notifications. Susan has sent questions to students over the weekend and used their short replies to prepare a customized lesson for Monday’s class.
The use of photos was also discussed, and Susan used the clever term “instant photo gratification,” which is possible through sites like Photobucket, Flickr, and Google+. Her favorite lesson plan with photos is based on an activity about favorite clothes. Students use photos of favorite items in their closets and activate related vocabulary through presentations.
Making the most of her 45 minutes, Susan fit in a demonstration of online polling with Poll Everywhere. Instant audience feedback keeps votes anonymous but shows results as the votes are counted. Susan has had success using instant polls as warm-ups. As students enter the classroom, the key question and voting instructions are already on the board/ screen. The results lead into the start of the lesson.
More highlights to come!